ClinicalKey Brief Review

Over on iMedicalApps.com I wrote a brief review on ClinicalKey.  The post is direct more towards doctors rather than librarians but it is worth a read through for librarians. 

Over here I thought I would include a few things that librarians might find interesting about ClinicalKey.

I have to say that the front page of ClinicalKey where it has two large squares “For Institutions” and “For Individuals” kind of confusing.  While testing the product we had a couple of librarians who kept clicking the “For Institutions” square to try and search the product.  But they were confused because they kept getting into information about ClinicalKey for Institutions.  They thought they were supposed to click the “For Insitutions” button to search because they were in an institution.  We had to explain to them you just type in the box and hit the search button.  As a a librarian who often fields questions from users, I have a feeling this will be confusing for our users.  I am not sure which blue box they will click on but the boxes are just so large and so close to the search box it implies there are different accounts for different users.  I understand Elsevier wants to market ClinicalKey to both groups, perhaps they can find a less confusing design to do that.

Access to PDFs currently is a two step process for users.  Recently (just after I submit my write up to iMedicalApps) Elsevier required an additional login to access the PDFs.  Basically users must create a personal login and password to access the PDFs even while on the insitutional account.  If you have read my blog or followed me on Twitter for any amount of time you will know that requiring additional logins to common (not customized) content is a barrier to usage.  Patrons understand if they want to save articles, images, or customize the content they have to create a personal login.  Patrons do NOT understand the need to create a personal login to access regular content just to read. 

They are often dissatisfied with this additional login and they do one if not several of these things:

  1. Don’t use it. They quit, they don’t bother trying to get the PDF.
  2. Yell at the library because “we don’t have the PDFs” because it is asking for additional login.
  3. Get confused and try using every other login under the sun that they know.
  4. Repeatedly call the library for the special login (which we don’t have because it is a personal login).

The big thing is though, users won’t use it.  Plain and simple.  Plenty of librarians have usage data to back this statement up.  Creating a login to view the PDFs is a barrier. 

Now it is also a barrier for copyright piracy, which is one of the main reasons Elsevier has instituted the PDF personal login requirement.  They are also using the login information to generate usage statistics. They said that this information could help us understand usage but I am unsure as to what usage statistics we as librarians really care about that are the personal login level.  Really all I care about is overall usage, resource usage (which books & journals are being used), etc. 

There have been some librarians who have expressed their displeasure over the PDF personal login requirement.  As a result Elsevier has said they are investigating other alternatives.  I look forward to them making alternative adjustments so that they can eliminate the personal login requirement.

Librarians are going to have really look at their needs and what they want.  ClincalKey is a very nice (almost) all inclusive Elsevier product.  Subscribers get 900 book titles, almost all of the Elsevier journals (Nursing is not in ClinicalKey) and a ton of videos and images from the Elsevier books.  However as I mentioned in the iMedicalApps article, ClinicalKey is a bit like trying to take a drink of water from fire hydrant, there is that much Elsevier information.  As a result, institutions barely using MDConsult or find MDConsult to a lot of information, might be ovewhelmed by not only the price but amount of content.  Institutions looking to subscribe to ClinicalKey really should have ways to manage the amount of information because it would be silly or downright negligent to not have an link resolver to handle finding all of the ejournals, an established method to handle finding the ebooks (whether it is your catalog, home grown system, or a link resolver that does ebooks).  If you don’t have an easy way to manage the fire hydrant of information then you shouldn’t be getting ClinicalKey in its present form. 

Other things that I think need to be addressed are downloading (for appropriate use) of ebooks and how they are dealing with the FirstConsult app. 

The writing is on the wall, the horse has left the stable, use whatever metaphor you want but users are now expecting to download ebooks to their iPads to read offline.  This needs to be build into the system.  FirstConsult isn’t the only product that hasn’t done this, McGraw Hill’s Access databases, Ovid, etc. have not figured out how to create a ebook product that will check out books for download to users.  I am not sure how they do that while still keeping it within the larger product like ClinicalKey or AccessMedicine, but this is something that must be addressed now because users expect this. 

I realize ClinicalKey is too new to really have an idea as to what they are doing regarding apps.  But there should be some sort of statement or direction as to whether the FirstConsult app will continue on as is, or whether they will change things and make it more of a ClinicalKey app with FirstConsult.  Like the downloadable ebook market this is an area where our uses have specific expectations. 

Those of you who have tried or bought ClinicalKey what are your thoughts?  Those of you who don’t have it and don’t plan to get it what are your thoughts and reasons? Write a comment either here or on iMedicalApps
Thoughts on extra login for PDF and Librarian’s thoughts on ClinicalKey.

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