By Joyce Flory, Ph.D.
Ever get the feeling that you just can’t keep up with everything happening on the Internet? You’re not alone. People are searching high and low for sites that help them stay informed and involved with the health care scene. Following are just some of the make-your-life-easier resources you’ll want to check out:
If you’ve got some favorite Web sites you want to track, hope they already produce their own e-mail newsletter. That’s certainly the case with sites such as Intelihealth (http://www.intelihealth.com/), Columbia (http://www.columbia.net/) and Medical Breaklthroughs (http://www.ivanhoe.com/). Visit the sites regularly and sign up with Net Minder.
This best-buddy site is designed to let you know what’s happening on your favorite sites. It’s as simple as telling Net Minder your favorite sites and then waiting for Net Minder to provide the updates. The good news is that the Net minder will keep track not only of Web sites but also more obscure gopher and FTP sites. Subscribing is as easy as entering your e-mail address and listing the number of sites you would like to have monitored. One warning, however: the URL Minder won’t tell you exactly what has changed on your selected sites—only that the sites have changed in some way.
With the advent of push technologies, there are lots of sites and services willing and able to deliver news to your desktop. Be a smart shopper and investigate all the options, but take a close look at FarCast. For the price of $9.95, it sends strange creatures called “droids” out on the Net to bring back information on specific topics at specific times. In fact, it is possible to have 15 droids working for you at once. They can look for information that may have been generated in 1947, produce stock quotes every 15 minutes, or—most amazing—search while you sleep. You’ll benefit from sources such as Newsbytes, Associated Press, Business Wire and PR Newswire as well as stock quotes, weather and sports updates. While you can collect much of this information by visiting sites such as PR Newswire (http://www.prnewswire.com), Far Cast offers the convenience of unlimited full-text searches and retrievals. A broadcast feature also allows you to have a customized newspaper delivered to your e- mail box.
If you’re wondering how anyone ever keeps track of what’s going on on Internet e-mail lists and newsgroups, you need only stop by In Reference. Thousands of newsgroups are archived in the InReference directory, while mailing electronic mailing lists are archived only with the permission of the list owner. Most important, Reference.com allows you to keep track of messages on mailing lists and newsgroups. This can be done through a simple search which involves entering a simple word or term, or through advanced search where you define search parameters using queries. Interestingly, you can store queries for any period of time—three weeks for example—and get messages on an event as specific as merger or technological development. You can also browse messages in newsgroups and mailing lists and post messages to newsgroups. Most intriguing, all of these services are free. If you’re interested in posting messages at some point or storing queries, just fill in the handy registration form.
An elephant may never forget, but physicians sometimes do. Unless you have a five-star office assistant who manages every aspect of your life, you need every boost you can get. Enter Mercury Mail. As with so many service on the Net, it’s a free source of news, weather, snow forecasts, stocks, sports, entertainment and reminders. Just indicate your preferences and the results—typically culled from leading news organizations—will come directly to your mail box. For example, if you’re interested in news, you can subscribe to NEWspot, which offers three e-mail delivery editions: Early Morning Coffee, West Coast Afternoon, and East Coast Afternoon. Other services include WeatherVane, which delivers personalized weather forecasts, Closing Bell, which offers closing prices and news for a personalized portfolio of market indices; Sports Wrap, which gathers sports news and information on your favorite sports; and SpotLite, which presents everything from horoscopes and lottery numbers, to TV listings and movie reviews. And you may never miss an anniversary or birthday again if you subscribe to ConsoliDate, which sends you e-mail reminders of important events a week before and again a day before.
Look for career sites to become more and more sophisticated. For example, CareerSite offers a Virtual Agent through which you can develop an anonymous, confidental profile, run profile-based searches based on the jobs available in the Career Site databases, have positions matched to your interests sent to you by e-mail, and send your resume to employers. Other career sites of more direct interest to physicians include the following
Physician’s News Digest
Medical Practice Opportunities
Medsearch America Employment Database
Health Careers Online
Joyce Flory, Ph.D., is an Internet and communications consultant and speaker. She is the co-author of five bookes on the Internet, including: The Online Guide to Healthcare Management and Medicine, The Online Consumer Guide to Health and Wellness, The Online Business Atlas, and The Online Consumer Guide to Personal Finance and Investing, all published by McGraw Hill/IRwin in 1997.