06 October 2007


This new—and still largely unpopulated—site aims “to take the secrecy out of health care pricing” by publishing cost of various procedures in different areas of the USA. Right now there is data only from a couple of places in the USA and New York. Categories of data are dental, diagnostic tests, emergency room visits, office visits, outpatient procedures and treatments, and eye care. Sample data: emergency room visit in Illinois: $500; in New York: $1185. They include “list price” and “true price”—the latter is a “negotiated” price. This is probably something like the cost of my recent foot surgery. The hospital’s bill started at about $4500; then there was a $2000 discount (negotiated by Kaiser Permanente, my health plan); then the amount paid (by Kaiser); finally, the bottom line—the amount I had to pay: $10.00. Not bad.

When (if?) they get more data, this could be a really good site for comparison shopping. I like the idea a lot. You can contribute data to it—do you want to help?


What MLA Members Told Us About Social Networking

There is a nice summary of a recent survey of members of the Medical Library Association (USA) on the blog of the Task Force on Social Networking Software. You can also download the entire survey results—in the form of 19 pages of charts.

Some of the findings:
More respondents (73 percent) thought blogs were important for MLA and its subgroups than use them in their professional life (52 percent). Similar results were found for wikis, media sharing, RSS, Web-based office tools, and social networking services. However, the percentages for IM (instant messaging) were about equal.
Nearly 20 percent of the respondents are solos.
One of the best comments: “Make sure the interest in these tools is sustainable and not just a fad, because I do believe Web 2.0 tools can improve the MLA experience for members.”
Others were concerned about the need to match need and technology and not let technology be the driving force.

Summary: http://sns.mlanet.org/blog/2007/09/24/what-mla-members-

Download charts: http://www.mlanet.org/survey/snssurvey_public_charts.pdf


This site bills itself as “the interactive research resource for bioscience [undergraduate] students.” Sections include: Getting Started in Science, Reviewing Literature, Planning Your Research, Step-by-Step Statistics, Writing Scientifically, Presenting Science, Going Professional, and How Do I…? Available are worked examples, exercises with answers, help sheets, and quick quizzes. It is from the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Applied Undergraduate Research Skills, University of Reading, UK, so some resources may be available only in the UK. However, the most value of the site might be to the bioscience librarian, to augment or help improve local resources.

URL: http://www.engageinresearch.ac.uk/

Bye, Bye, HealthWeb
Effective 31 October, the HealthWeb portal will be deactivated. It was created 13 years ago by 20 health sciences libraries in the Greater Midwest Region of the (US) National Network of Libraries of Medicine and the National Library of Medicine.

Why is it ceasing operations? “Users want deep linking capabilities (a la Google) and are navigating away form list oriented sites such as HealthWeb.” “…most contributors did not fee they could devote sufficient time to keep the project viable.” Although it was designed for health care professionals, most questions were consumer health related and other resources suit these questions better.

Suggested alternatives:
Hardin MD: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md
: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/
Google Health Co-op: http://www.google.com/coop/topics/Health

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