The Internet has completely changed how the average person accesses and verifies the information. Medical professionals are no exception. Despite the advanced education you completed for your license, daily practice is filled with times where “Googling” may be appropriate– the presence of unusual symptoms, rare diseases, or unexpected drug interactions.
But many worry that the information that comes up is not trustworthy or evidence-based. How can you know?
As it turns out, the volumes of medical reference books and monthly publications you once kept on a shelf in your office can now be found online. Here are some top websites that those in the industry may now turn to daily to access that information.
In this article, we’ll look at how healthcare professionals use them, what affiliations some of these sites have, and how they ensure the information they provide is evidence-based, accurate, and up-to-date.
UpToDate is a physician-reviewed and often authored website that takes every publication through a lengthy yet efficient review process to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the information they provide.
UpToDate is considered the go-to source for about 90% of US-based medical centers. A118 facility study published on PubMed.gov found that most doctors and residents turned to UpToDate before any other resource.
But UpToDate is not exclusively a physician resource. Healthcare institutions also train nurses and other medical professionals to use this website’s information to manage patient care.
PubMed is the official website for the US National Library of Medicine located at the National Institutes of Health. Here you can find abstracts and full articles that are peer-reviewed.
The studies here include everything from small observational studies that may have minimal statistical relevance to more complete clinical trials. Both types of studies are, of course, important for healthcare advancement. You can review summaries of the studies to see how far along the research is and decide for yourself how you want to apply that knowledge.
How to Use PubMed
This database is comprehensive and massive, so getting to the more relevant studies for a given situation can be challenging.
You can search the database using the easy search feature to explore numerous studies on the topic. The advanced search function features medical professionals are familiar with, like medical subject headings (MeSH) and Boolean operators to help medical professionals refine search quickly to get to the more relevant healthcare results.
For all the jokes about doctors getting medical information off WebMD, it’s actually a pretty reliable source and a great place to start researching symptoms, interactions, syndromes, and more.
WebMD is a US-located company that was founded in 1998 by Jeff Arnold after a merger with two other companies who were working to make accurate and up-to-date medical information available online.
In the early 2000s, WebMD became one of the most popular websites for medical professionals, overtaking government-run websites due to its highly user-friendly nature. Each article is reviewed by specialty doctors and pharmacists for accuracy according to currently accepted evidence.
WebMD has also created a patient-focused magazine for waiting rooms and runs the Medscape site, one of the most trusted websites among healthcare professionals.
Bringing Medical Professionals Together
Did you know WebMD also has a discussion board specifically designed for medical professionals? Here, those providing healthcare services can collaborate free of charge on patient care.
They can learn from each other, ask questions of the community, and gain insights into areas of medicine that may be outside their specialty by connecting with specialists.
4. Need for More Affordable Healthcare Options
The people over at WebMD brought the same user-friendliness to their medical site exclusively for medical professionals, Medscape. Medscape is partially owned by mega-corporations CBS and AOL.
Medscape offers medical professionals limited but generous access to medical journals, peer-reviewed published studies, and full-text articles for free with sign-up. Then they offer a paid subscription for greater access to this plus:
- Digital medical textbook
- Several leading trade publications (e.g., Lancet, JAMA, New England Journal)
- Latest healthcare news
They have an extensive drug database that many medical professionals find indispensable, and they produce their content in the form of peer reviews of other research.
5. World Health Organization
WHO is the part of the United Nations that focuses on global health and research. More recently, we’ve seen them on the news as they research the origins of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.
Trusted Source for Global Health
There is a wealth of information on regional epidemics and pandemics, such as HIV, Ebola, tuberculosis, and Malaria. They provide an extensive online library of pictures, fact sheets, and helpful resources for medical professionals.
Aside from HIV, most of these are conditions doctors will rarely see. So it’s helpful to have research from leading experts on these diseases in different parts of the world where certain diseases are more common.
WHO’s website also regularly publishes world healthcare news related to the conditions it researches around the globe and dives into country trends around topics like infant mortality, hearing loss, and malnutrition.
6. Save a Life
Save a Life at NHCPS.com is a website dedicated to making advanced lifesaving medical training available online for free.
Medical professionals visit this site to complete Joint Commission compliant online certification courses based upon ILCOR standards.
They can then take a test to get certified and receive AMA Category 1 credits needed to maintain their healthcare license for a small fee.
Save a Life also provides helpful videos, free algorithms, mega codes, mobile apps, and other educational resources medical professionals may need for individual and team training for emergencies both in-hospital and out-of-hospital.
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- CPR, AED, and First Aid
Merck is the pharmaceutical company responsible for brand names like Singulair and Januvia. Their drug reference books are staples in many doctor’s offices. They also have created an awe-inspiring online library of healthcare resources that is available for free in many languages on their website.
Medical professionals may use Merck’s online resources to:
- Understand disease processes
- Explore treatment options
Merck Manuals has even added a blog written specifically by medical students and residents for medical students and residents, discussing the hurdles and shared experiences of those in medical school.
8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC.gov has been in the spotlight because of the ongoing pandemic. But it also has a lot of information on best practices and research in infection control, managing healthcare operations, enhancing clinical communications, and first responder coordination.
Chronic Disease Trends and Tracking
The CDC website provides lots of information on current public health concerns like the rising rates of diabetes type 2, obesity, and opioid addiction. CDC tracks important health data and statistics year to year, and you can find it on their site.
This medical database is owned by trusted medical analytics company Elsevier. To compile their medical database ClinicalKey, they consulted with over 2000 MDs around the world to organize tools medical professionals can use to answer questions and explore treatments.
Massive Online Library
Out of this collaboration between analytics technology professionals and medical professionals has come a library of 10s or 1000s of videos, journals, clinical trials, medical reference images, and digital textbooks available through the website and a mobile app.
Like other healthcare resources on this list, ClinicalKey has gone to great lengths to make its site easy to use and aesthetically appealing.
MedicineNet is also owned by WebMD. As is common, WebMD has created distinct brands to appeal to different audiences. While physicians often use WebMD, it’s obviously geared toward non-healthcare professionals.
MedicineNet is another WebMD property designed for medical professionals specifically.
Unlike WebMD, where the contents are created by non-clinical writers and then reviewed and approved by a clinical reviewer, MedicineNet articles are written by board-certified medical doctors for doctors. There is, therefore, a different level of professional standards and writing applied to the various health-related topics.
As a WebMD property, this site is easy to navigate and written in a scannable form with lots of bullets, short summaries of main points, and sections to help you find exactly what you’re looking for quickly within articles.
Some find MedicineNet’s visuals overstimulating. It doesn’t look like a traditional medical site with its bold colors, clever stock images, and advertising, which is how they support the site.
But what some find overwhelming, others appreciate. It’s a site that takes itself seriously in the quality of its content but isn’t afraid to have fun with imagery.
11. American Medical Association
The AMA is a trusted organization in the US and abroad. Their website is committed to providing information and promoting good public health.
Info on the Latest Policies and Laws
AMA-aasn.org provides access to journals and research. But it’s also a great place to stay current on a discussion around health-related policies and legislation in the US. See what bills are in committee and how the government is handling ongoing health concerns.
Medical Myth Debunkers
This site has also committed part of its resources to research and debunking health myths that even medical professionals can get pulled into when pseudo-science is presented a certain way. So if you see a new study online that makes outrageous claims, you may be able to find discussions about it here.
National Institutes of Health NIH (NIH.gov) is the official NIH website. As stated before, PubMed is also managed by NIH. But while PubMed is focused more on published studies, you can search to learn about the latest breakthrough scientific discoveries in medicine on NIH as an article-based website.
Learn More about Research Initiatives
One of the ways healthcare professionals use this site is to stay current on what kinds of research US tax dollars and other NIH funds are funding. Many of these studies are in their early stages. But others represent breakthroughs that may change how doctors manage various conditions in the future.
Much of what is discussed on NIH and PubMed is still in the experimental stages. But sites like these can give doctors caring for patients with hard-to-manage symptoms advice on emerging, experimental treatments they may want to try.
Articles discuss their research and funding initiatives as well as the latest on topics like:
- Stem cells
- Science education in schools
- Workplace safety
Epocrates’s goal is to help medical professionals who are hesitant to rely on the Internet for clinical decision-making to go digital.
This app is like an on-the-go reference book. The information in the app comes straight from reliable sources like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It brings all of the information into one place so you can search across multiple trusted sources rather than searching each individually.
Specialized tools help healthcare professionals overcome common daily challenges and tasks like:
- Identifying a loose pill
- Assessing risk factors
- Managing a disease
- Diagnosing disease
- Identifying syndromes (seemingly unrelated symptoms that come together to point at a disease cause)
- Clinical decision-making
- Getting the formularies for various insurance companies
The formulary tools can save doctors a lot of time and patients a lot of money. Medical professionals can quickly see the preferred brands and generics for each insurance company. So they can prescribe the one their insurance company will cover vs. one they won’t that does the same thing.
Unlike some of the tools on this list, Epocrates is completely free but does support itself by selling ad space like many “free” online resources.
Top Online Resources for Medical Professionals
The Internet is a crowded place where almost anyone can say anything. But several websites like these have gone to great lengths to earn your trust by providing evidence-based information.
What other resources for medical professionals have you used? Share your recommendations with us.