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Retrieving Health Research

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Decades ago, the author was involved in development work for a database called Pharmaceutical News Index (PNI). The problem for certain pharma, life sciences, and healthcare researchers was getting the news. MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online) was an essential resource; Chemical Abstracts served a global audience of molecule and structure enthusiasts. Thirty years ago, medical and related information was a big business. If you were poking around with Dialog's command line system then, you know that it was a nontrivial task to formulate a query, filter results, and pinpoint the specific reference you needed. In 2012, the volume of pharma, life sciences, and healthcare information has sustained the same fate as business, engineering, and patent information. It seems the author's perception was not completely off base. Searching health and medical information appears to be working through what he calls "the gerbil syndrome": An enormous amount of effort may be expended, and the forward movement is unsatisfying.

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