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Preliminary Comparison of Three Search Engines for Point of Care Access to MEDLINE Citations
Medical resident physicians used MD on Tap in real time to search for MEDLINE citations relevant to clinical questions using three search engines: Essie, Entrez and Google, in order of performance. MD on Tap (MDoT), developed by an Research and Development group at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), supports access to MEDLINE citations via special client software for Palm and Pocket PC PDAs with wireless access to the Internet. Users are allowed a choice of three search engines for MEDLINE queries: Entrez, the Boolean search engine used by the NLM PubMed system, Essie, the probabilistic search engine developed for the NLM clinicaltrials.gov web site, and Google. Entrez ranks results by publication date, Essie ranks results by relevance to search terms. Medical residents participated in a structured evaluation of MDoT in conjunction with a medical informatics elective. Each physician accompanied, as a knowledgeable observer, medical teams on rounds in a community teaching hospital, using MDoT to search for MEDLINE citations judged relevant in answering any clinical question that arose. Residents submitted daily summaries to NLM that included, among other items, a list of the relevant citations.