January 22, 2011

Google custom search to search all your blogs and resources

Google custom search in action Most doctors have a set of favorite websites they have become familiar with and prefer to search when immersing in a clinical topic or issue. Medscape's Emedicine is one of these, I find my self repeatedly Googling a topic and adding "emedicine" to search their site specifically. As most of you have found out, Googling medical topics commonly leads us to completely irrelevant sites like patient information or even veterinary sites. Just try 'ileus' - you'll get tons of recommendations on how to treat a horse with no bowel sounds!
While everyone of us searches the web for clinical information every day or so I am amazed to see how little physicians bother about the actual search tools or using advanced search queries since these can significantly alter the results in a positive way. It's pretty much like scavenging the ocean floor when looking for birds.

Google has a special "site:" operator to search a particular webisite (URL) or even part of the site only. This will give us even better results than the above mentioned query;
 "ileus site:emedicine.medscape.com"

will return results only from Emedicine. This way you can use the power of the Google search engine rather than the sites' own.

You can actually add more site:... operators to search a group of websites but that's making things a bit complicated isn't it? So what if you could search a predefined group of sites only?
Well, Google custom search is exactly that and even more. It's one of the excellent Google tools and as such free and uses your Google account to store your predefined sets of selected searches. Yes, you can define not only one set but as many as you wish. I have been using a "medical community" group where I search my favourite emergency medicine blogs (the 'blogosphere'), perfect for finding my colleges' personal experience and opinions or even updates on clinical matters. Then I have a "basic medical resources" where I have included Emedicine, "Merck manual" and similar webs when I want to do some "back to basics" digging into the medical knowledge.