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Case Study: Thunderstone Helps JMI Manage its Large Collection of Medical Documents

April 3, 2018
Case Study: Thunderstone Helps JMI Manage its Large Collection of Medical Documents

Who We Helped

The Jeghers Medical Index (JMI) is a medical library in St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital (SEYH). The JMI maintains Dr. Harold Jeghers’ collection of approximately one million historical medical journal articles that date from the late 1800s to the 1990s.

Their Challenge

After decades of amassing medical articles, JMI’s collection had grown to roughly five million physical pages, which filled more than 165 cabinets. As JMI began to digitize its collection, it was apparent that a flexible data management system that specialized for storage and searching was necessary. The professionals at JMI considered and compared several data management vendors on the following criteria:

  • Cost
  • Relevance
  • User interface
  • Methodology
  • Location of corporate headquarters
  • Willingness to customize software

After weighing all these factors, they decided that Thunderstone and TEXIS, its fully-integrated, full text search engine software platform, was the best fit for their project.

Thunderstone’s Solution

The TEXIS system is capable of hosting and managing a large collection of documents online. For JMI, TEXIS manages roughly one million articles.

With this much available information, Thunderstone wanted to provide several ways for users to find what they needed from JMI. This process included a custom search to match OCR information from hand annotated copies of articles to add key elements like PubMed XML citations and a table of anatomic terms that Jeghers created for TEXIS so that their users could find relevant articles from the original collection. Thunderstone also programmed TEXIS to offer JMI users three different search options to assist in article retrieval.

Boolean Logic

This option is patterned around search and retrieval behaviors like PubMed, an archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine. Users can use this search method to query based on the author, title, journal, abstract, and medical subject headings (MeSH).

Proximity Search

The proximity search option retrieves articles based on the occurrences of terms and location of words in sentences, paragraphs, pages, or documents. Proximity search can extract concepts contained in articles by using the relationships between words and the clustering of words with concepts to its advantage.

Jeghers Indexing

A third search option is based on the indexing method developed by Dr. Jeghers himself. This search relies on concepts such as disease, organ system, physiology, and anatomy to retrieve folders containing articles close to the search subjects.

After users made a query, the display results offered more options to organize the bibliographic data if they wanted to pare down their search even further. At this point, users can list results by various facets, including year of publication, study type, or with or without abstracts. Once a document or documents are found, the user may request a fair use copy from a JMI librarian.

JMI, a medical index powered by Thunderstone search engine software.

What Happened

As a collection of historical medical articles, the JMI allows medical professionals, professors, and students to glean more information about the past. Since the addition of TEXIS, JMI has noticed an increase in usage of the collection, with more than 2,000 hits or searches recorded over the course of a year. JMI searches are not restricted to SEYH staff, as the database is utilized by people across the world.

While the project took hundreds of hours of work to gather and upload the collection, TEXIS now has helped JMI turn into a compact, low-maintenance collection that is curated by a single full-time librarian. Since shifts in health care terms, meanings, and concepts can impact retrieval accuracy, Thunderstone can make ongoing changes to JMI’s TEXIS platform to help it improve results retrieval over time.

Work with Thunderstone Today

If your organization has a big project that requires accurate, effective search results, Thunderstone can help. Learn more about our search engine software and appliances and contact us today to talk to one of our experts about how Thunderstone can help you solve your search problems.

Case Study: Thunderstone Provides a Suite of Flexible Search Solutions for Agency’s Clients

January 9, 2018
Case Study: Thunderstone Provides a Suite of Flexible Search Solutions for Agency’s Clients

Who We Helped

Aztek is a Cleveland-based web design, development, and digital marketing agency with several clients in need of new search software and hardware products.

Their Challenge

As an agency, Aztek works with multiple clients. Each of these clients have different search needs, ranging from basic site keyword search to complicated ecommerce or other custom database solutions. That meant that Aztek needed a partner that was flexible enough to provide search solutions designed for different clients and platforms.

Another key was that these solutions needed to meet each individual client’s expectations and be cost effective. Through Thunderstone, Aztek could achieve these goals and save themselves from having to identify and work with multiple search solution vendors or take on that responsibility themselves.

Our Solution

The short answer is simple; we provided Aztek’s customers with the wide range of quality search solutions that we’re known for. For example, we used Parametric Search Appliance because it has all the everything that 95 percent of clients would need in a search solution, whereas Texis is used where fully-customized solutions are needed.

Since each client is different, we developed a template to determine a client’s search needs and simplify the implementation process. This process identifies the site, applicable domains, and how the results need to be organized. These details allow us to follow up with any additional questions and determine an appropriate solution. Aztek also doesn’t have to worry about compatibility issues because our search software and hardware works with most major CMS platforms their clients use, such as Umbraco, nopCommerce, WordPress, and many others.

Another key part of our solution is hosting and managing the search solution so that Aztek doesn’t have to deal with recreating, reindexing, and rehousing all their clients’ search data. Instead, they receive the final search results directly from us. Aztek also doesn’t have to maintain another server or deal with unfamiliar technology, which is one less thing for them to worry about.

Image of Aztek Web, a company that wanted to partner with a search software and hardware company.

What Happened

Since the partnership began, Thunderstone has helped several of Aztek’s clients, with many more projects currently in process or planned for the future. This has led to clients receiving everything from a new hosted search appliance to a current project involving an extensive database of old catalogs.

Another big advantage of the partnership for Aztek is how it frees them from the responsibility of having to deal with new technology. With Thunderstone, Aztek doesn’t have to worry if software is being updated or who to turn to if there’s an issue. They can share any concerns with us and we can work with them to fix problems or work through new client scenarios. We don’t just supply them with a solution; we work with them to ensure that their clients’ needs are met long after initial implementation.

What Aztek Says About Us

“There’s no ‘it is what it is’ with Thunderstone. Some of the other search solutions we looked at had issues indexing PDFs or issues due to outdated technology, or platform compatibility problems. Working with developers who aren’t familiar with the intricacies of many platforms or who don’t actively update software can be challenging. With Thunderstone, it’s the complete opposite end of the spectrum. We have someone who we can work with, share concerns with, make customizations and is completely invested in the success of our work.” – Keith Rowe, Chief Technology Officer

Work with Us Today

If your company needs proven search solutions for you or your clients, we can help. Learn more about our search engine software and appliances and contact us today to talk to one of our experts about what we can do for your business.

Case Study: BioThane Finds the Right Google Site Search Replacement Through Thunderstone

December 19, 2017
Case Study: BioThane Finds the Right Google Site Search Replacement Through Thunderstone

Who We Helped

BioThane is an American, family-owned manufacturer of coated webbing and assemblies. These materials and products are used for a wide variety of markets, ranging from military and safety applications to dog collars.

Their Challenge

The BioThane website contains a lot of valuable information for users in need of coated webbing. The company offers a wider variety of products that differ in terms of size, look, hardness, durability, and flexibility. All these factors can make it tricky for a user to identify a specific product by a specific characteristic without a good site search. This search function also needs to be able to pull appropriate services pages, blog posts, and other pages that would be relevant to a user’s queries.

Another issue was that BioThane was using Google Site Search, which will shut down April 1, 2018. BioThane wasn’t interested in using the company’s free site search that would potentially serve competitor ads on their site, so they needed to find an appropriate replacement without having to increase their search budget by too much.

Image of BioThane’s website with our Google Site Search replacement platform.

Our Solution

Fortunately for BioThane, Thunderstone has options for businesses trying to replace Google Site Search. We helped them change over to a hosted search appliance built on the Thunderstone Texis platform, which gave them a fully-integrated, full-text search foundation that provides their users the ability to get search results that are relevant to their initial queries. This new platform is also extremely flexible, so BioThane can implement new search functionality over time if the need arises. Also, they got all of this without having to break the bank for a replacement site search.

Improve Your Site Search

Are you in need of a Google Site Search replacement? Learn more about our search engine software and appliances and contact us today to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you.

Case Study: Parametric Search Appliance Helps Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Prioritize Product Results

October 11, 2017
Case Study: Parametric Search Appliance Helps Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Prioritize Product Results

Who We Helped

Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve, a family-owned manufacturer of all-natural soaps, shampoo bars, and skin care products in Northeast Ohio. While Chagrin Valley products can be found in several stores in Ohio, most people order their products online and have them shipped to their homes.

Their Challenge

Chagrin Valley was facing a pair of big changes. One, they were in the midst of a new website redesign. Two, the old Chagrin Valley site used Google Site Search, so they needed to find a replacement option since the company did not want to have ads for competitors’ products displayed on their search feed. This new search solution needed to serve their specific needs so that their new website had a strong search function for all their online customers.

One of Chagrin Valley’s challenges is that they have both a lot of product pages and educational pages on their site. In the past, Chagrin Valley customers would complain that some searches would not display the products they were searching for, making it difficult for users to buy what they wanted. However, both products and educational posts were very important to Chagrin Valley, so they needed a solution that would ensure that searches would always populate appropriate products in addition to blog posts and other pages.

Another key element of the project is that the new search solution had to be compatible with Umbraco, Chagrin Valley’s content management system for their new site. Chagrin Valley had looked for some options but were having trouble finding a solution that would integrate seamlessly with Umbraco.

Image of a Chagrin Valley search result page powered by Thunderstone’s Parametric Search Appliance.

Our Solution

Since both products and educational pages were important to Chagrin Valley, Thunderstone configured its Parametric Search Appliance so there were two sets of search results for every query.

If a user searched for a product like adzuki bean soap or an issue like dry skin, the first listings he or she would see would be products most closely related to that search. However, Thunderstone added a second results field on the same page. This second bucket of search results is located below products and displays any related blog posts and other types pages related to the subject.

Chagrin Valley customers had also become accustomed to seeing images of each product in the search results, and the Thunderstone Parametric Search Appliance ensures that each result is displayed with an image and a description of each product, allowing users to find exactly which products they’re looking for.

Image of the other pages bucket powered by Thunderstone Parametric Search Appliance.

What Happened

Thunderstone worked with Chagrin Valley to set up their search solution in time for the launch of their new website. This particular project only took a couple of days to set up, as the Parametric Search Appliance easily integrated with Chagrin Valley’s Umbraco CMS. So far, customers have been able to easily find what they need on the new site through the search function.

Chagrin Valley is just one of many businesses who have benefited from Thunderstone search solutions. Learn more about our search engine software and appliances and contact us today to talk to one of our experts about Thunderstone can help you.

Customer Success Story: Using Texis To Enable Native American Mixed-language Searching On A Heritage Education Site

June 26, 2009

The Challenge:

How do you create an online learning resource with search capabilities that satisfy the special requirements of students, teachers and tribal leaders in today's Native American communities?

    • Kids on the reservations often speak in a manner that combines their traditional native language and English. They want a website that allows them to search for desired information in the same way.
    • Educators need innovative, practical tools that can help students to learn more about their native languages, history and culture. They must teach nearly forgotten subjects and transmit cherished values. 
    • People with the responsibilities of leadership in Native American tribes have a dislike for anything that threatens their unique heritage. They fight against the corrosive influences of rampant commercialism.

The Solution:

The Native American Cultural and Historical Institute (NAI) and Mnemotrix Systems, Inc. created a Heritage Education online database with sophisticated User Group features and Concept Search capabilities powered by Thunderstone's TEXIS.

    • Users of the Intelligent Archive Search tool at NativeAmericanInstitute.org can enter 'mix-and-match' queries that combine English with words from the Seminole, Miccosukee, Creek, Muskogee, Cherokee, Apache, Lakota, Sioux, Yurok and other Native American languages.
    • The customizable thesaurus in TEXIS takes advantage of vocabularies developed by Native American speakers working closely with the tribal communities. As more people use this search application's thesaurus and continue to add to it, it becomes increasingly smarter.
    • TEXIS allows NAI to index only targeted content into a fully searchable database optimized for rapidly accessing and retrieving both structured data and unstructured information. TEXIS will enable online users to very quickly find text documents, maps, images, audio recordings, photographs and related educational materials with a high degree of relevance to authentic Native American knowledge, achievements, beliefs and perspectives.

Tendencies within public school systems on the reservations often end up taking Native American kids away from who they are, forcing students to choose between educational attainment and their tribal community roots. In response, the Native American Cultural and Historical Institute (NAI) developed NativeAmericanInstitute.org — a Heritage Education teaching resource for tribal educators, students and researchers. This web-based database provides access to an expanding quantity of archived information via Thunderstone's TEXIS search technology.

NAI is a non-profit activity jointly sponsored by the Florida-based Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, Inc. and by Texas-headquartered Mnemotrix Systems, Inc. — in association with participating Tribal Sponsors and with valuable ongoing input from professionals associated with the American Teachers Union.

Creating an Online Educational Resource Customized for Native American Students

Kathy Pincus, Chief Technology Officer at Mnemotrix Systems, Inc., related, “One of the issues with the Native American languages is that they're primarily verbal. It's a verbal tradition more than a written tradition. So, you have the current generation of Native Americans who cherish their language and their culture, which is, of course, disappearing just as many traditional things are disappearing in the modern age. And they want to educate their younger community in these things. The major tool that they have for remembering is the language itself.

“We took advantage of scholarship that's been done in a great number of different Native American languages. Then, with the customizable Thesaurus capability that TEXIS has to offer, we were able to combine the different common vocabularies of the languages. By using your own native language, you can actually do a query and find out what's been written about that subject — although what's been written is in English.

“It's a very unique situation in that we're trying to facilitate a cultural language which doesn't even have a body of written material — only verbal material. You have people who are remembering, in English, things that happened that were of the native culture. They're written down, but they're written in English. With this resource we've created for them, the students of native languages can go in and mix and match in English and their own native language to try and learn more about things that are culturally relevant.”

Kids on the reservations often speak in a manner that combines their traditional native language and English. Why shouldn't they have the ability to search for desired information in a manner that seems most natural to them?

Users of the Intelligent Archive Search at NativeAmericanInstituite.org can enter a query using words from the Seminole, Miccosukee, Creek, Muskogee, Cherokee, Apache, Lakota, Sioux, Yurok, and other Native American languages.

For example, if you enter the query hiye food (“hiye” is a Lakota Sioux word for “hot,”) it conjoins the interface for “hiye” with all known thesaurus equivalencies for “food.” The returned results will include items such as: “Native American recipes for soups, breads and hot sauces,” and “Native American Lore” — The White Buffalo Woman — where the following passage occurs: She filled a buffalo paunch with cold water and dropped a red-hot stone into it. “This way you shall cook the corn and the meat,” she told them. It's a smart search.

The Native Language Support page at NativeAmericanInstitute.org identifies some sources used to develop the lexical content for the site's searchable archives. When users click on any of the links for the listed source materials, this takes them to a Learning Center where they can learn to pronounce the letters of the words and to verify their sounds and definitions.

Kathy Pincus thinks other competitors in today's enterprise search marketplace do not provide the depth and breadth of 'rich language' capabilities available from Thunderstone's TEXIS.

She said, “The Native American community is a perfect example of a user group. How does a user group work, and how does it evolve? It evolves through its language. And, so, the ability to create a way to deal with the language of a group is a very powerful capability.

“What we have in this particular case is a Native American user group thesaurus language. It's been developed, and it can be added to. The more that it's used — and you put that feedback loop back into this thesaurus — the smarter it becomes. And it starts to create, with this new millennium, a written mind that parallels the thesaurus user group's community. This is something that TEXIS is equipped to deal with that the other stuff out there is not equipped to deal with. It's part of its strength.

“And we're living now in a world of Web 2.0, which 'clicks' everybody away from richness into pre-programmed controlled associations. We've always been about wanting to expand the mind rather than to control the mind — so that you could make associations that were not otherwise possible.

“The ability to do what we did with the Native American community is something that we could do only with TEXIS. It's not something that I would even try to take on without the robust set of tools that differentiate TEXIS from everything else in the market. Let me put it as clearly as possible. The other guys just don't have what Thunderstone has.”

If You Build It, Will They Use It? Addressing Serious Cultural Imperatives, and Overcoming Stakeholder Resistance

Creating innovative language/heritage learning resources for Native American educators requires a willingness to deal respectfully with local leaders and hard-core cultural conservatives who may have very valid concerns about the potential of negative influences that they often see intruding from outside their tribal communities.

Michael S. Pincus, President of Mnemotrix Systems, Inc. (and the husband of Kathy Pincus,) has a long history of intimate connections to the Native American community that began in the 1960s. Recently, when getting started on the NAI project, he mentioned to one his Native American friends that these are really exciting times. “Just imagine,” he said to her, “in the future a Native American could go into space and actually put their feet on the moon.” And she replied in a very interesting way, “We don't want to do that. We don't want that to happen to our Native American tribal members, because we are culturally and ethnically bound to the Earth. And our religion requires that we stay here.”

Mr. Pincus asked her how technology could potentially assist with tribal communities' educational efforts in ways consistent with their cherished values. She said, “Kids on the reservation shy away from using the Internet for anything except stuff that we don't want them to do. And, they don't like using English. We're trying to teach them their native languages.”

Pincus suggested, “What if I built you a specific application where selected websites are indexed into a database, and when kids use it — it only canvasses good information which is all relevant to your Native American issues and NOT relevant to other things? They can't use it for searching porno. They can't use it for searching for new sneakers. It's only predicated on the archives — which are all relevant to your cultural and other views.” She answered. “Now, that's great. That would really work. I'd love it. You'll get a lot of support from the different tribal councils.”

Thus began the Native American Cultural and Historical Institute (NAI) project. While students appreciated having the ability to formulate search queries that combine English with their Native languages, tribal leaders expressed concerns.

Michael S. Pincus explained, “If it [the concept-based rich language search tool] is too comprehensive — then they feel that you're taking advantage of them. You're assuming that you are an expert in their language, when, in fact, they consider themselves an expert in their language. So, what you run into is resistance. To this day the whole issue of educating and working with Native American communities remains difficult for a lot of people. If you don't really think things through and get comfortable with the whole scenario, people just won't use it. They find reasons to be annoyed by something or to criticize what you're doing within it.”

There are linguists in universities studying Native American language, and yet their studies remain somewhat disconnected from the speakers of these languages. From an academic perspective they pay no attention to the true culture and the whole Native American experience of English. Mr. Pincus said there's an appropriate expression seen throughout the literature dealing with Native American thinking and education: ‘It's like fish that don't know there's water.’

NativeAmericanInstitute.org had to choose between using vocabularies that come from linguists, which are full of complexities — or using vocabularies that are more 'ad hoc,' that are put there by native speakers for their own benefit. With the advice of Bob Carr (Executive Director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, Inc.,) who is an anthropologist and archaeologist and an expert in Native American issues, the developers decided to stay within the context of 'ad hoc.' They used dynamic, slowly-growing dictionaries that have been put there by native speakers who are working with this community — as opposed to going with vocabularies from heavyweight academics who have very little connection to Native Americans' everyday world. Doing things this natural, more casual way enabled them to satisfy the sensitivities of cultural conservatives in the tribes, whose tacit approval makes teaching/working within the established educational system less complicated and less difficult.

Since the Native American Cultural and Historical Institute (NAI) began building this new online learning resource, 15-20 additional native language sets have become available to the development team. The Institute intends to expand its linguistic reach to cover nearly all the U.S. tribes. Many tribes, however, won't release the data — because they don't want non-native people speaking their languages.

Mr. Pincus remains optimistic. He said, “Unlike when we first started on this, we now have more Native American educators who are Native American — rather than Caucasian. And, working with them really is great. They're technically savvy. They're skilled at interfacing with a broader community of people. They have experience in working outside of the reservation. Yet, at the same time, they're skilled at handling reservation politics and stuff like that. So, there's an opportunity. It may now be a better place in which we can work effectively.”

Enhancing the Tribal Study Rooms at NativeAmericanInstitute.org with Additional Cultural and Historical Assets

Looking to the future, Michael S. Pincus said his current NAI activities include working with the Smithsonian Institution and other organizations to integrate maps, images, tape recordings, photographs and related educational materials that can also support and enhance tribal efforts to shake their communities loose from the negative effects of commercialism.

He noted, “Only certain tribes (many as a result of the casinos) are really doing fantastic. The Seminole tribe of South Florida owns the Hard Rock Cafes around the world. It's wild. And they're doing well. But a lot of the other tribes are still struggling. Seminole education in Florida is improving. They're turning out MBAs, lawyers, archeologists, historians, etc. But, generally, across the country, it still remains challenging. So, we're hoping this will help change that.”

 


The Native American Cultural and Historical Institute (NAI) (http://www.NativeAmericanInstitute.org) safeguards and enhances access to Native American culture, history and linguistic heritage. It applies advanced information management technologies and intelligent data retrieval techniques to provide a means by which the Native American community and indigenous peoples worldwide can preserve, research and dynamically study the cultural materials most important to them — while using their own Native Language systems combined with English.

Mnemotrix Systems, Inc. (http://www.mnemotrix.com) founded by Michael S. Pincus and Kathy Pincus in 1986, is an advanced technology developer and integrator that creates intelligent information applications such as NAI. The founders were also involved in the initial design specifications for some of the concept-based technology used in Texis.

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