There are incredible people doing incredibly inspiring work in Emergency Medicine. I wanted to restart the hero series, which had fallen off the radar a few years ago, featuring amazing people in our specialty. Today’s hero spotlight is on Dr. Todd Raine (@RaineDoc). He is a Staff Physician and IT Coordinator at the Providence Healthcare Department of EM and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Department of EM. Despite these notable accomplishments, he is famous in the social media world for his innovative creation of a Google-based EM search engine GoogleFOAM.com, which many of us use to perform social media site searches online in the field of EM. His search engine is a “unified search of all FOAM sources on the Web.”
Here is a transcript of a recent interview with Todd:
1. Congrats on Googlefoam.com! How did you come up with this targeted search engine idea?
Thanks! I am still a bit amazed by the reception the search engine has received. Since changing sites from emgoogle.com to GoogleFOAM.com, use of the search engine has increased 10-fold. I built the Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) about 2 years ago to help me manage the information overload coming from the EM blogosphere. I was constantly frustrated remembering a paper or post I had seen a few days or weeks before, but being unable to find it. What I needed was a way to search only a small number of sites. There are ways to limit Google searches to one, or a few sites, but there were ~150 blogs and podcasts, plus tool sites (like MDCalc and TheNNT etc), and far more now, making that strategy pointless.
I knew there had to be a tool out there… so I Googled it! Turns out Google itself created the tool, the Custom Search Engine. Using Google, unfiltered, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. The CSE shrinks the haystack from the whole web, to just the sites I choose, but using the full power of Google’s search algorithms and blueprint of the web.
So now as the FOAM blogoverse grows, I attempt to keep up by adding each new blog, site, or tool to the search engine.
2. How would you like to see GoogleFOAM evolve?
I want to create a useful tool for the FOAM community, and for the larger medical community. As the Web expands, and people (rightly) become more concerned with the ability to find high quality and immediately useful information, we will need to develop a suite of tools to help us. GoogleFOAM will be one of those.
In GoogleFOAM’s latest iteration, I added refinements. Specifically, once you do a search, you can click on one of the tabs that appears under the search bar, and the search results are narrowed to just a subset of the GoogleFOAM index. Limit the search to EM/Critical Care, Ultrasound sites, PHARM sites, etc. Eventually I hope to add open-access journals to this tab list. If there are med savvy Code Cowboys out there get in touch, because I am out of my depth here…
3. I see that you are also the founder of WikEmerg.ca. What is that?
WikEmerg.ca is an ambitious, 3 part project:
- The Wiki – a MetaFilter
- The Lectures – a way to organize a ‘Flipped’ Curriculum
- The Rounds – personalized repository of your talks
The Wiki section
The Wiki section is an attempt to organize the web, and especially FOAMed, content. The Internet is a vast content sinkhole. Most of us don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to dig very deep. We use Google (or GoogleFOAM!), get recommendations from colleagues or learners, or follow a few high quality blogs and podcasts. We can’t all be Scott Weingart (EMCrit), David Newman (SmartEM), or Joe Lex (FreeEmergencyTalks), so we rely on them, and folks like them, to filter and process the content.
Even then it can be a bit of a chore to dig out that specific bit on a specific topic at a moment’s notice, even with GoogleFOAM… So I have created a curated list of resources for EM Topics. With kind permission, I have used Reuben Strayer’s (EMUpdates) Diagnosis, Therapeutics, and Procedures list to structure the initial Topic List. Most topics are just a list of links right now but I hope that, with some help, we can structure each topic into a more useful narrative structure.
The Wiki is intended to be a ‘meta’ site. Some original content may appear here, but mostly topics should be a curated guide to currently available outside resources on any given topic. This is a step further than a curated search engine like GoogleFOAM.com, and several steps beyond a basic Google or Bing search. I am a huge FOAM proponent and so preference should be given to Free and Open Access resources, but there is no prohibition on linking to subscription or pay sites, so long as this is explicit in the article or link, and the end result is high quality information.
Examples of the Wiki concept
Examples are the topics on Asthma and Incision & Drainage. Each time an article is edited you are prompted to fill in a ‘change log’ so that there is a record of who did what. There is also the ability to restore older versions if needed.
Anyone can join WikEmerg and help edit and create the topics. Just email me (taraine at hotmail dot com) and let me know who you are, and some way to verify that. This is my blunt instrument to ensure that editors have some baseline ‘trustworthiness’. Those with established credibility will be given permission to invite and add others to the site, and hopefully the site, and community, will grow.
The Lectures section
This section is a place to add a lecture series (like a residency or clerkship curriculum). Each ‘Lecture’ has a place to post Objectives, Videos, Documents, etc. Each time a lecture is given, the presenter can add a ‘Presentation’ – Audio or Video content, Lecture notes, Presentation documents. This acts like a ChangeLog for the lecture. The next time that lecture is assigned, the new presenter can start with the previous presentation and ADD to it rather than RECREATE it. This has a number of benefits:
- By seeing what was presented before, the topic can be presented consistently across years.
- Having the previous material to review and incorporate means less work, and more time to focus on adding the latest and greatest
- Learners have access to the most up to date information
- Programs have a ‘History’ of their topics, and can check to ensure the material is meeting their standards.
- Why RE-invent the wheel every year when you can make a better one instead?
The Rounds section
This section is for posting your unique, one-off talks. These could be your departmental Grand Rounds, Conference Talks, or Research Days. Each ‘Round’ is identified by the Creator and Institution, and can be searched or filtered that way as well. In addition to the primary media (audio or video), you can post all of the related material, documents and other bits associated with the talk, as well as interact with peers via the comment section.
‘Rounds’ is intended to be a personal or institutional repository of talks and sessions. This can be shared as part of a CV, an online professional profile (like LinkedIn or Doximity), or for later review if someone missed the talk. I think it is criminal that many talks simply vanish after being given once – we all work damned hard on them so they should endure if possible. I also think that paper slide handouts are a waste – there are vast opportunities for further, deeper learning by pointing people at your sources, and making that sharing easy.
5. How can the EM community help?
This is a big project, and there is NO way for me to do it by myself. I need help, and this is an opportunity for folks to get involved in the Digital and FOAMed revolution. Perhaps you are not quite ready to start your own blog or podcast, but still want to get in on some FOAMy goodness; or maybe you just want to help organize the chaos. Please come and help curate. Content is still King, but the King needs to be heard to be effective.
Thanks for all that you do in EM and FOAM, Todd. Keep up the great work!