Health IT

‘Google for docs’ brings a new kind of smart searching to medical research

The largest publisher of original medical reference content has created a new, comprehensive tool for medical research to make its content – and select third-party content – easily searchable.

ClinicalKey is the recently launched reference database from Elsevier that’s being deemed the Google for docs.  It contains full-text content from more than 500 journals and 800 books published by Elsevier (including Neuroscience, Cell and The Lancet), plus Medline abstracts, select third-party journal articles (but it’s missing some important ones), a library of medical images and videos, and clinical trials information. Users can filter, save, export and share this content.

The biggest value add for ClinicalKey, according to Jim Donohue, Elsevier’s managing director for global clinical reference group, is that it addresses three needs of clinician when they’re looking for information: it’s comprehensive, trusted and fast. Other resources like Google, UpToDate, MDConsult, DynaMed and PubMed only address one or two of those points, he said.


To determine those needs, Elsevier conducted focus groups and surveys of 2,000 physicians. What the company found was that nearly half of the time physicians needed to search the Internet for clinical information, they weren’t able to get it from just one source. So began the company’s mission to create something that fit into clinician workflow and improved the ability to effectively search for evidence-based information.

ClinicalKey’s secret sauce is its smart content technology based on a proprietary taxonomy called EMMeT (Elsevier Merged Medical Taxonomy), which comprises algorithms and about 2 million terms that are tagged to content. (Donohue called it an “Elsevier-agnostic” search engine, pointing out that it digs up the most relevant information without favoring the publisher’s content over others’). Typing Addison’s disease into the search bar, for example, generates a drop-down menu of suggested topics containing the term Addison’s disease and also a list of drugs and procedures associated with that condition.

“It’s a living thing,” Donohue said of the cloud-based program, which is constantly being updated. “With every search that’s run, we refine the results based on users’ actions and the functionality.”

Another interesting feature is the presentation feature, which was developed based on the market research finding that 20 percent of physicians who were looking up information on a product were doing it to build some kind of presentation. This feature allows users to export images along with their citation and copyright information into a PowerPoint presentation with just a few clicks.

In April, Elsevier launched an institutional model of the program that’s being sold on a subscription basis. A product that’s tailored to clinical specialties, allowing for subscription to a certain collections of the content, will roll out in July. After that, ClinicalKey will go mobile, with two apps set to launch in August.

To see more demo videos of the product, check out ClinicalKey’s YouTube page.

No comments