Minervation launches National Elf Service for mental health

Join-the-elvesToday we are announcing the launch of our National Elf Service, designed to help busy health and social care professionals easily stay up to date with today’s huge volumes of significant research developments in their fields, improve their knowledge, and reduce error. For entry-level users, the service is free.

The National Elf Service is the brainchild of our Founders André Tomlin and Douglas Badenoch, humorously branded with the idea of Elves who ‘dig and delve’ (1).  This service, where basic membership is free to users, is designed to benefit practitioners and patients alike by providing user-friendly updates on the most significant new evidence selected from today’s avalanche of high quality research.

Health and social care professionals are inundated with new evidence.  They can’t keep up to date, yet they are required to for professional development and audit purposes.

The National Elf Service tackles this problem in a unique way. Created by professionals for professionals, it summarises high quality new evidence that is relevant to practice using industry-standard appraisal criteria and an accessible and user-friendly front-end.

The service also features open and transparent discussion of the evidence, bringing together clinicians, patients and researchers.  And users can track their learning as they engage with the evidence using the service’s curated content and continuing professional development tools.

No other service works in this way.  The mantra is:

  • No bias
  • No misinformation
  • No spin
  • Just what you need!

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Help us to make the best evidence accessible to the public

A woman reading a letterFor over a year now, Sarah Chapman and her colleagues have been producing Evidently Cochrane, a blog that presents important new evidence from Cochrane Systematic reviews in a friendly, digestible format.

Minervation have teamed up with Sarah and her colleagues at the UK Cochrane Centre to produce a new website.

As you know, we like our evidence at Minervation.  And in website development, this means asking the users what they think.

Users are the Level 1 Evidence for website design

This is where you come in!

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Testing Treatments interactive: why we need fair tests of treatments, what they look like and how to get involved

Modern medicine has been hugely successful at reducing the impact of disease and increasing life expectancy.

In spite of this, too much medical decision making is based on insufficient evidence. As a result, doctors and other health professionals have sometimes harmed patients instead of helping them.

Avandia box

Avandia was withdrawn after evidence of adverse events mounted up

As recently as 2010, for example, the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia) was found to have caused serious cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes in spite of being licensed for over 10 years.

How we can prevent these things from happening again is the theme of Testing Treatments interactive (TTi), a family of websites Minervation has produced with an international group of collaborators.

TTi is about how we tell whether one treatment is better than another. In other words, it’s about what constitutes a “fair test” of the effects of treatments.

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If you produce health information for the general public, you should join PiF

PiF logoBack in 2005 we published our LIDA research saying that 98% of online health information was inaccessible, unusable and unreliable. Things have improved over the last 7 years, but information providers still need all the help they can get to make sure the information they produce is easy to use and understand and a reflection of best current knowledge.

We have been involved in the Patient Information Forum for nearly a decade; as members, supporters, conference speakers and website developers.  We are keen advocates of their hugely influential work and were delighted to be chosen to help redevelop the PiF website earlier this year.

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Welcome to the Lida Blog

The Lida tool helps you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of health information on the web.

This section of the Minervation blog is dedicated to the Lida instrument, Minervation’s validation tool for health websites.

What is Lida?

Lida is an appraisal instrument that allows you to measure the quality of a health web site.

It is free, and is available as an online tool that generates a “scorecard” for a website, and as an annotated PDF document containing detailed instructions and explanations of each item,

What does Lida measure?

Here’s what we mean when we talk about the quality of a health website:

  1. Accessibility
    Is the information accessible to those who need it?
  2. Usability
    Can users make sense of it once they’ve got it?
  3. Reliability
    Is the information the website contains likely to be accurate?

Each of these domains is evaluated using a set of criteria, set out in the  accompanying PDF.

A note on Accessibility

We measure accessibility using an automated check. Our online tool looks at the HTML and metadata on a web page and scans for common errors that may affect accessibility.

This approach can only provide guidance as to the likely accessibility of a website and should not be considered definitive. A full accessibility audit, to the standards set out by the Web Accessibility Initiative, can only be correctly performed using human judgment and user involvement.

How can Lida be used?

You can use Lida as:

  1. qualitative guide to the strengths and weaknesses of a source
  2. a quantitative measure of quality to rank or compare many different sources
  3. a tool to assess individual pages or to assess a website as a whole.

What does “Lida” mean?

When we originally developed the tool, we thought about calling it “Minervalidation”. Fortunately we came to our senses in time. We couldn’t think of anything else so used the string “Lida”, because it conjoins Minervation and validation to make “Minervalidation”.

Where can I find out more?

Check back in the coming weeks to find out more about how people are using Lida to guide the development of good quality health information, and how we validated the instrument.

We want to hear from you about:

  • What makes good quality health information?
  • Does the Lida instrument address these issues properly?
  • What were your experiences of using Lida?



New responsive design for the Oxford Careers website

Student meeting Careers AdvisorWe have been working with the team at the University of Oxford Careers Service for a few years now; helping them ensure that their website meets the needs of the students, alumni and recruiters who use it.

Last year, the team noticed that more and more people were becoming interested in accessing the site on smartphones and tablet computers. They also felt that the site wasn’t really making the most of blogging or social media tools, and that the design and structure of the site could be improved.

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New website to help doctors provide better care for people with learning disabilities

Wood for the treesWe know that sometimes people with learning disabilities don’t receive adequate care from the NHS. Many high profile reports and documentaries have highlighted the failings across health and social care and it’s noticeable that the mistakes that happen are often around regularly occurring themes (e.g. poor communication, ignoring advice from families).

We have been heavily involved in a new website from the General Medical Council that aims to teach doctors how to do better. The site identifies the issues, highlights patient perspectives and shows how professionals can put guidance into practice. It’s a very interactive resource with lots of video and online learning tools.

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