While trying to find the online version of a particular book, edited by someone I knew, I happened upon a potentially useful resource for e-Patients — the free 24-hour trials available at Elsevier. (Does every medical publisher offer this?)
If you buy the $400 book at Elsevier, you get the online resource, Expert Consult, for free. An e-Patient could use this access to find doctors who are publishing in her specialty, or to discern the latest discoveries. Would she spend $400? No. But she could email Expert Consult to get the 24-hour free pass to those pages. One day is enough to find what she needs — and the online version even has clickable links to the footnotes.
It’s better than an index search of the print version, because you can search on phrases.
I tried it. I asked for access to the fourth edition of Fetal and Neonatal Physiology, by Polin, Fox, and Abman and got it, no questions asked.
When I asked my own questions, the customer service rep said that access is generally granted for whatever books you asked for, as long as you are not trying to get the whole catalog.
Other cool things Elsevier is doing — it has an iPad app for anatomy students in dissection labs, Elsevier has offices in St. Louis and used to have a couple of locations in the Princeton area, but it has decamped to Philadelphia.