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Dermatology Online Journal

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Improved reader access to key scientific information. Time for a LIFT.

  • Author(s): Huntley, Arthur C., MD
  • et al.
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Improved reader access to key scientific information. Time for a LIFT.
Arthur C. Huntley M.D.
Dermatology Online Journal: Volume 2 Number 1:2


Dermatology Online Journal is designed to serve the educational needs of residents and practitioners in the specialty. In this era of overabundance of information and increased demands on the time of the practitioner, the Journal has been trying to address the need for more efficient access to medical information. The formatting of the case reports by Dr. Lia Keller in this issue illustrate a new concept - Limited Information with optional Full Text (LIFT).

Extracting key information from a sea of words on a computer screen can be tiring, and is dissimilar to the patient encounter. Unlike the traditional history-physical-laboratory-diagnosis approach taught through medical school, the practitioner (especially the dermatologist) often makes a diagnosis based on key visual findings and confirms the diagnosis with information uncovered by history. The case reports in this issue present are given in a traditional and a graphic approach. In the graphic version or LIFT track, the reader accesses images accompanied by the key details, and remainder of the information is available in drop-down boxes. Technical problems aside, Limited Information with optional Full Text appears to be a closer approximation to the real patient encounter, and it allows the reader faster access to the information.

The LIFT track only seems appropriate as an option to its source document, the standard full-text mode. Thus the reader is presented here with the option of shifting between full-text and the LIFT track. The ability to present information in more than one track (parallel texts), is one of the advantages of the medium. It may ultimately prove to be a more efficient method for the practitioner to view this type of educational material.