Being able to think ‘outside the box’ is a valuable skill for many reasons. In the world of medicine this ability can yield unlikely, yet effective, solutions to common problems. Enter CureHunter’s Visual Medical Dictionary — a free online tool allowing anyone to instantly retrieve disease, drug, and therapeutic technique information for thousands of medical search terms. Imagine being able to explore key words associated with a disease or medication by navigating through a simple mind map of terms…it has the potential to give spark to an idea which would have never occurred to you otherwise.
In 2003, a group of scientists banded together to attempt to train computers how to cure human diseases—by getting them to read scientific papers.
The developers’ backgrounds in medical data mining, artificial intelligence software development, computational linguistics, and computational biology meshed together to produce the CureHunter Discovery Engine.
The integrated index includes all known drugs, biologically active agents, diseases, and empirical statements of all effective clinical outcomes published in the United States National Library of Medicine since the 1950s. While the company’s main products require subscription based access, the Visual Medical Dictionary is free for anyone to use.
Its results, while simplistic, as shown in this example for spinal stenosis, are generated from their huge database and displayed as an interactive network graph of related terms, going beyond the typical medical dictionary. What makes it unique is the visual element to information sharing. Being able to see a web of relationships may spur the user to explore a topic in unexpected directions, perhaps discovering new perspectives in their search.
The interface offers the option to subscribe to a RSS feed for the latest information on your search term, embed the network graph in a blog post or webpage, and allows users to zoom in and out.
Source: InSpine – The International Journal for Spine Care Professionals; Volume 7; Issue 4