July 24, 2009

Keeping up with Emergency Medicine studies made easier

Featured Image

Jim Fiechtl, M.D., left, and Clay Smith, M.D., record a podcast for keepingupinem.com, a new Web site dedicated to updating Emergency Medicine staff on the latest journal articles and studies. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Keeping up with Emergency Medicine studies made easier

Keeping up with latest journal articles can be difficult. Isolating the practical from the peculiar requires time, and for busy Emergency Department physicians, this task can strain the schedule.

Clay Smith, M.D., and Jim Fiechtl, M.D., are the co-creators of a Web site that updates Vanderbilt Emergency Medicine staff on the most important and practical articles in the literature. The site — keepingupinem.com — renders articles clear and concise in the form of podcasts and written summaries.

The idea was formed at a lecture where the creators presented short summaries of the top trauma articles in 2007. Many residents wanted to see similar lectures for all areas of emergency medicine.

Corey Slovis, M.D., chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, pushed for a sleekly designed, easily accessible Web site.

“We realized that was the goal: to keep people up to date,” Smith said. “Dr. Slovis suggested to do a weekly update — just the facts, the meat — of the articles.”

To achieve this goal, a group of EM physicians survey a wide range of journals and choose the most useful studies each week.

“We search 44 journals per week and narrow it down to the best 10 articles,” Fiechtl said.

These articles are divided between two faculty presenters, summarized by each, and posted on the Web site. The summaries are roughly 200 words long and consist of five sections: context/study question, results, limitations, applications and the bullet. The “bullet” drives home the usefulness and relevance of the article in a clear, concise statement.

The podcasts use the same format as the written summaries. Smith and Fiechtl keep them fun and entertaining, though informative.

“You have to create something that people would want to listen to on a weekly basis,” Smith said.

Subscribers receive mp3 downloads of the podcasts into their iTunes, which they can transfer to an iPod. The benefit of the podcasts is transportability; physicians can listen to the most significant journal articles each week on their schedule.

To ensure that the site was streamlined and sharp, Smith and Fiechtl sought out the talents of Web designer Josh Keckley. In addition to aesthetics, Keckley monitors the site's growth. The site has been approved by the Medical Center's Web Development office.

“Its steadily growing up,” said Keckley. “There is an increase in use of 4 percent to 5 percent per day, on average.”

This growth signals a demand for the Web site's succinct presentation of medical literature. Emergency medicine physicians need information that they can instantly bring into practice. Keeping Up satisfies that need in a unique way.

“It changes the way we do things, clinically, and also the way we teach,” said Smith. “What we are hoping to do is be relevant, concise and give people the facts.”