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Information Technology in Conventional and Complementary Veterinary Medicine

Phil Rogers Ireland

SUMMARY

For a more complete, interactive text online, see [http://homepage.eircom.net/~progers/itupdate.htm]. Modern information technology (IT) allows rapid communication between professionals interested in all aspects of veterinary medicine and is very relevant for distance-learning and continuing professional development. This paper discusses:

 New Web Engines.

 Vet Links.

 Other Online Databases.

 Holistic and Conventional Data on the Web.

 AP Events WebPages.

 Software for Cookbook AP.

 Email Discussion Lists.

INTRODUCTION

Medical publications are multiplying fast. To remain competent, medical professionals must keep up to date with current knowledge. Information technology (IT), communications, and areas of professional interest change so fast that we must be selective in our reading and use efficient ways to locate the articles of interest to our expertise. Medline has free online abstracts from > 8000 journals. It had indexed >10.1 million articles on July 27, 1999. On that date, it had 7031 articles on acupuncture (AP).  Even in narrow areas, keeping up-to-date is very difficult. Having located and studied material of interest, the accurate recall of stored data and making appropriate conceptual linkages between different “packages of memory-stored data,” are the main problems of human memory. Most people have only partial recall of data. In contrast, computers do not “forget.” Digital data on modern media usually are retrievable. Modern technology offers fast and total retrieval of stored data. In contrast to human memory, if the data are coded correctly, and if correct search terms are used, every reference to a particular data-string can be recalled.

In the age of “information overload,” we need to filter out the data that we need. For example, “A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine” (5) has 945 pages of dense text on all aspects of TCM. At a reading rate of 25 pages/h, and a study time of two hours a day, it would take over 18 days to “skim” the book once. To absorb its contents would take dozens of readings. Having absorbed them, what would our recall of specific details be 12 months later? In contrast, if a CD-ROM (with a proper index/thesaurus) contained the total detail of this work, one could query any term at any time and locate every bit of detail about that term in minutes.

I.   New Meta Engines on the Web

A.   One must use a Web Search Engine to do a general Web Search, say to locate the Internet Address for the Homepage of Acupuncture Supply Houses. Many people know some of the standard Web Search Engines, such as AltaVista or Excite. There are advanced versions of these: AltaVista Advanced Search and Excite Power Search. These allow users to restrict the search, which can return more specific hits. However, there are new, more powerful engines that search multiple basic engines simultaneously. These are called Meta Search Engines. Good examples are: AskJeeves, DogPile, Google, Mamma, ProFusion and SavvySearch. For the addresses of these and other Web Engines, see [www.research.teagasc.ie/grange/search.htm].

II.   Holistic and General Vet Links on the Web

A.   International TCM, Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture Links Page. This page [http://homepage.eircom.net/~progers/vaplinks.htm] has Search Options to find both HOLISTIC Data and CONVENTIONAL Data [www.research.teagasc.ie/grange/search.htm#menu] on Med, Vet Med, Animal Health and Welfare. It also links to IVAD (see IIB). It has extensive Med, Med and Vet, and Vet Links.

1.   Databases for Holistic Med and Vet Med (Conventional and CAVM). This page [http://homepage.eircom.net/~progers/compmed.htm] accesses powerful databases, such as SEARCH Medline [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/medline.html] | Clinical Queries [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/clinical.html] | browse Med and Vet Journals [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/jbrowser.html] | many titles on CAM | SEARCH Datadiwan (Database on holistic med) [www.datadiwan.de/suche/index_e.htm] | CISCOM (Centralized Information Service for Complementary Med List) [www.homeopathyhome.com/reference/rmmc/rmmc.shtml] | Bibliographic databases, indexes and journals [www.homeopathyhome.com/reference/rmmc/rmmc2.shtml] and Libraries [[www.homeopathyhome.com/reference/rmmc/rmmc3.shtml]| CAM Databases (British Library) [http://portico.bl.uk/] | Munchener Modell (Database of trials in homeopathy, AP and phytotherapy) [www.muemo.med.tu-muenchen.de/] | NAL-USDA Search Engine [www.nalusda.gov/search.htm] and Databases [www.nalusda.gov/pubs_dbs/pubs.htm#dbs] | SEARCH PGF (Postgraduate Foundation, Sydney Vet School) [www.pgf.edu.au/search/index.htm] | Study Web > 140,000 Learning Links [www.studyweb.com/] | Vet and Med Dictionaries and Encyclopedias [www.ivis.org/External_links/Information_Services/dictionary/list.asp] | AMA Search (great medical resource, including AP) [www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/pubsrch.htm#fullsite] | DynamicMedical (distilled practical data on >2000 human diseases)

2.   Holistic Med and Vet Med: Links [http://homepage.eircom.net/~progers/othercompalt.htm] has links to Homeopathy | TCM, herbal medicine and acupuncture, and many other CAVM Sites.

3.   Online Study of AP and TCM (3) [http://homepage.eircom.net/~progers/study.htm] is the most important page for those interested in online study of CAM (especially AP, TCM, Herbal Med and laser therapy) in humans and animals. It has volumes of practical material: search options, lectures, acupoint details and charts, manuals, monographs, bibliographies, etc.

B.   IVAD (Intnl Vet AP Directory) [www.komvet.at/ivadkom/vapsocs.htm] allows users to locate members in many countries. Online Registration Forms allow easy updates of details of a Society, or of individual members who want an IVAD Listing.

C.   Grange Research Centre Links Page [www.research.teagasc.ie/grange/veturls.htm] has many Links to sites on Agriculture, Vet Med and Science, Universities, Institutes, Organisations and Libraries.

III.   Other Online Databases: (Medline, Acubriefs, VIN, ISI, CAB, DynaMedical, Cornell Consultant)

A.   MEDLINE [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/medline.html] is the most powerful free medical database on the WWW. It has >8000 abstracts on AP and TCM. MEDLINE is invaluable for clinicians and researchers who want to access Med and Vet abstracts.<div align=“center”> From 1989-1998, it added > 400,000 titles/year. At circa 3–5 pages/article, these articles would contain 1.2 to > 2.0 million pages of text/year!

B.   Acubriefs Online Bibliography of Acupuncture. This page [www.acubriefs.com/] is a great resource; > 11000 titles / abstracts on AP. See III-A, above.

C.   Veterinary Information Network (VIN) [www.vin.com/] is a US-based Online Vet service, with a growing international membership. It costs circa 460 US$/year. It has extensive Speciality Boards, Bulletin Boards on every conceivable aspects of Vet Med (including Complementary Med and AP), and a powerful Search Engine to search its entire Site.

D.   ISI (Inst of Scientific Information) [www.isinet.com/index/index.html/] and CAB Abstracts (Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau Intnl) [www.cabi.org/] are commercial (expensive) Online Databases. They cover the biological sciences, including Agric and Vet Sciences and are essential resources for researchers. However, Vets can get most abstracts of interest free from MEDLINE (see 3a), or from the Medline Journal Browser [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/browser.html].

E.   Dynamic Medical [www.dynamicmedical.com/] is a free online resource for Medics, but Vets may register also and use the database without restriction. It has intensively edited (distilled) practical information on >2000 human diseases. It is a must for small-animal practitioners, but all Vets with medical queries can get a wealth of technical information here.

F.   Cornell Consultant [www.vet.cornell.edu/consultant/consult.asp] is a free Online Diagnostic Package for Vets. It is an eye-opener to users not familiar with it. It will remove any illusions that casual Vets may have about their diagnostic ability.

IV.   Web Advances in Holistic and Conventional Data
The quality and quantity of online information on AP, TCM and holistic Med has improved greatly. See II-A (which also include Herbal Links and Homeopathic Links), II-B (international Vet AP associations) and II-C. (extensive general Vet links).

V.   AP Events WebPages
It is easy for Vets to post and read Web notices of upcoming Vet AP Events. For example, go to the Vet AP Events Page [http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/articles/sinedrv.htm] and fill in the details on the Online Form at the bottom of the Page. KomVet has KomVet Calendar [www.komvet.at/english/calendar.htm]; Vets may email details of an event there. Alternatively, one may email [IvasOffice@aol.com] for posting on the IVAS Events Calendar [www.ivas.org/calendar1.htm]. There is a similar facility for human AP on the AP Events Page [http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/articles/sinedr.htm].

VI.   Software for Cookbook AP
Great advances have occurred in Software for AP and TCM. British Med AP Soc Page [www.medical-acupuncture.co.uk/] reviews the software. Some of it is expensive. My homepage has an Acupoint Cookbook (Top Ten Points for Common Conditions) [http://homepage.eircom.net/~progers/adtop.htm]. This database has a Fast Find function for experienced users. [http://homepage.eircom.net/~progers/ff.htm]. A new company, ATRAR [www.atrar.co.uk/], has very good software (graphics, TCM data, client accounts, history files etc), but has no points database to enable users to input a variety of signs and extract the acupoints which match that syndrome. I am negotiating with ATRAR to see if they can incorporate my Top Ten Points database, above, into their software.

VII.   Email Discussion Lists

A.   Professional Acupuncture List (PA-L) [http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/pal.html] is a useful discussion list, restricted to OMDs, MDs, Osteopaths, DVMs, and other professionals who use AP routinely. See details at About PA-L [http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/pva-l.pvalgen.html]

B.   Acupuncture Jiscmail. This is a UK-based open list for physiotherapists, OMDs, MDs, Osteopaths, DVMs, and other professionals who use AP routinely. To join, email the server [jiscmail@jiscmail.ac.uk] with the message “Join Acupuncture Firstname Lastname” in the Message Field.

C.   Professional Vet Acupuncture List (PVA-L) [http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/pval.html] is a useful discussion list, restricted to qualified Vet acupuncturists. See details at About PVA-L [http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/pva-l.pvalgen.html]

D.   Other E-mail Vet Lists. Email lists for Vets interested in holistic topics are on pages relating to AP, Herbal Med and Homeopathy. Covering many topics, other Vet/Agric Lists are at [www.research.teagasc.ie/grange/Veturle1.htm ].

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

 There are several thousand WWW Sites for holistic and conventional Vet and biological / pharmaceutical topics. Many are commercial sites, advertising books, equipment, software, or training etc. Others are Homepages for private clinics, which offer diagnostic or therapeutic services.

 Commercial sites and other homepages that advertise for business may have little to offer the serious researcher or clinician in holistic Med. In contrast to strictly commercial sites, there are several hundred good sites with vast amounts of useful data. The Links Pages, discussed above, are useful, fast ways to access the best of these.

 IT and multimedia provide rapid answers to specific technical queries, and solve problems that depend on expert information. Given access to a phone and a modern computer, a practitioner in a rural outpost can cheaply communicate by email with colleagues around the globe.

 Self-study by distance learning is already a powerful educational medium. Direct access to medical and TCM databases, whether online or on CD-ROMs, etc, allows instant access to the most up-to-date information.

 Modern IT also offers a marvelous opportunity to integrate eastern and western medical knowledge in a way never previously possible.

 Vets who fail to keep up with rapidly changing information will be left behind with the “also rans.”

REFERENCES

1.  Felt B (no date) Paradigm's Computers and Oriental Medicine Forum [www.paradigm-pubs.com/html/forum.html]

2.  Lin JH, Rogers PAM and Yamada H (1998) Integration of ancient and modern medicine towards a sustainable system of animal production and medical care. Proceedings of 24th IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society) Annual Congress, Taiwan, August 1998. [users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/articles/integr1.html]

3.  Rogers PAM (1998) Information Technology in AP and TCM. Proc 24th IVAS (Intnl Vet Acupuncture Society) Annual Congress, Taiwan [users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/articles/tai98it.html].

4.  Rogers PAM (1999) Acupuncture Links Pages [homepage.eircom.net/~progers/vaplinks.htm] and Study Material on Holistic Medicine [homepage.eircom.net/~progers/study.htm].

5.  Wiseman N and Ye F (1998) A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine. Paradigm Publications, Brookline, Mass, USA, 945 pp.


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