The internet enabling better medical practice
Firefox: A Doctor's Best Friend. Part 1 - Searching
I've been using Mozilla Firefox as an alternative to Internet Explorer for several years now. Although everyone talks about how much better it is, for a long time I must admit that I didn't really see why - I was just happt to be using something hipper than Internet Explorer and a bit alternative.
It's not until recently that I've started to discover some of the tools that that have made firefox indispensible to many internet junkies. The unique thing about the browser is that it lets third party developers create add-ons (or applications) to improve your browsing experience further. Over 6000 have been created, with advert blockers (Ad Block Plus), web design tools (such as firebug) and toolbars (suck as the social bookmarking add-on StumbleUpon) being some of the most popular.
But what use is Firefox to a doctor? I've been mulling this over for a few days now; it partly depends on what you use the internet for, but most doctors need the internet for a few basic things:
1. To look things up - who hasn't quickly checked Wikipedia or GP Notebook to remind yourself of the symptoms of some rare disease?
2. Literature searches. Whether it's for a presentation, an audit, or to appease an intimidating consultant, everyone uses the web for literature searches.
3. Jobs. All jobs are now listed on the web and all MMC jobs (in the UK) were applied for online this year.
4. Revision and Learning. Sites like onexamination.com, Pastest, BMJ Learning and so on have become an indispensable part of the revision process for many. e-portfolios are now here, so recording your learning is becoming important too.
(Please let me know if there are more - it would be interesting to see how important the internet has become.)
How can firefox help with these?
There are lots of tools in firefox to help doctors get what they want from the web. The simplest has to be Smart Keywords - a neat shortcut that lets you search your favourite websites with only a couple of taps of the keyboard.
What is a Smart Keyword?
Typing something into Google can often be a bit disappointing though and you often (guiltily) find yourself clicking on the Wikipedia link for ease. However, if you're in a rush you often don't feel like finding a trusted website, waiting for it to load, then using their search box.
A much quicker and more satisfying way to find things is to use a Smart Keyword search in Firefox. This lets you do a search on your chosen website straight away, just by typing a letter (or more if you want!) into your navigation bar at the top of the screen. For example, if I want to search for BMJ articles on diabetes, all I need to type is "b diabetes" in the navigation bar and i will be taken to the BMJ website and shown all the results for the word diabetes.
Each keyword only takes a few seconds to set up and is dead easy. Here's how you do it:
Or if you don't want to watch the video: