The future of DynaMed: a quick look

DynaMed is a database that provides point-of-care evidence-based summaries of over 2000 drugs and diseases. It’s aimed primarily at primary physicians, med students and health sciences libraries serving researchers needing quick clinical reference information. There’s even a patient education component to DynaMed, making it possible for patients with library savviness to access the same primary information about a drug that their own physician has.

Over the past week DynaMed has notified their customers that a “preview” of their new user interface is available to test. I paid a visit to their demo website see what all the fuss was about.

The current DynaMed landing page has a Google-style search box with a browsing function.

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DynaMed’s interface as of May 2011

The new DynaMed has a cleaner front page, but still with essentially the same functionality.

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The new DynaMed interface rolling out Summer of 2011

When you search for a disease or condition, (in my example, “osteoid osteoma”) the old DynaMed would show a typical list of search results. Clicking on one would take you to the start of the article you clicked.

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The current search resultsIn the new interface you can hover your mouse cursor over an article and it will show you the article’s table of contents, giving you quicker access to the information you’re looking for.

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New interface: hover your mouse over an article title to reveal the table of contents on the right.

When viewing an article, nothing has really improved. The content and organization is the same as before.

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The new DynaMed interface should be an easy transition from the old.There are two new features deserving attention:

1) Much improved in-text search

The new DynaMed has dynamic one-click searching within an article. The current interface forces you to click on “Expand All Sections” and then use the web browsers native search function, which can always be awkward given DynaMed’s use of i-frames. The new search function is quick and uniform across browsers and platforms.

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The old search required you to click “Expand All” before being able to search the article.
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The new DynaMed search is one-click.

2) Article alerts

You will soon be able to have DynaMed email you when an article is updated, much like what ProQuest, EBSCO and Scopus have been able to do for years now. I can envision multiple uses for this feature. Imagine a patient taking a particular drug on a chronic illness being updated when new research is published and summarized on DynaMed. Or imagine a neurologist treating several patients for osteoid osteoma and wanting to read updates.

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Overall, I’m pleased with the asthetic changes made to DynaMed to bring it up to date with modern web design standards, despite the fact that the functionality or layout hasn’t significantly improved. If you’re used to the way DynaMed works now, you should be able to seemlessly transition into using the new interface.

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