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Home > News > Archive: June 2015

Mental Elf

Minervation launches National Elf Service with the Mental Elf


Service for health and social care professionals to stay up-to-date, improve their knowledge and reduce error

Evidence-based healthcare specialists Minervation are announcing the launch of their National Elf Service, designed to help busy health and social care professionals easily stay up to date with today’s huge volumes of significant research developments in their fields, improve their knowledge, and reduce error. For entry-level users, the service is free.

The National Elf Service is the brainchild of health information professionals André Tomlin and Douglas Badenoch, humorously branded with the idea of Elves who ‘dig and delve’[1]. This service, where basic membership is free to users, is designed to benefit practitioners and patients alike by providing user-friendly updates on the most significant new evidence selected from today’s tidal wave of high quality research. Whilst various commercial services are available to meet this need, the National Elf service is the first to be created by professionals, for professionals, and to offer the basic service free to the market.

First to be launched in the National Elf Service series is the Mental Elf. Carefully piloted over the last eighteen months, the Mental Elf helps clinical and care practitioners navigate the welter of high quality published mental health research. Studies have shown each individual clinician would otherwise have to read around 250 research papers per day to keep up to speed with important developments[2]. Even if the mental health sector is divided into specialist subsections, a professional would still bear the burden of reading and absorbing around 20 papers per day – an overwhelming task. This is a critical issue for professional standards and the quality of patient care. There is good evidence that the currency of clinicians’ knowledge declines over time, and that this can effect patient care[3]. Fortunately, there is also strong evidence that giving clinicians access to evidence-based, user-friendly summaries improves knowledge and reduces error[4].

The Mental Elf service is made possible thanks to time and effort from the community of practising professionals. A selection of experienced practitioners has voluntarily undertaken to critically appraise the latest research, select significant developments, and then provide a short precis and clinical commentary on that research. The service then makes this work browseable by users on the Mental Elf website and across social media. The Mental Elf has over ninety expert contributors and around 40,000 regular users, all built up in its pilot phase. The service also boasts some 27,000 Twitter followers.

In response to user research, The Mental Elf is now also offering a number of additional services, which members can purchase through subscription, to enhance their experience of the core free service. These comprise:-

  1. Tailored email alerts to keep users up to date with the latest reliable research
  2. The ability to automatically track Continuous Professional Development and print certificates that summarise a user’s learning
  3. Online journal clubs where members can interact to refine their critical appraisal skills
  4. Reflective practice notes where subscribers can keep track of their learning
  5. A networking function to help users connect with experts and colleagues in their field of interest

Further Elf Services are currently under development pilot and will be launched across 2015-16. These pilots include:-

  • The Social Care Elf
  • The Learning Disabilities Elf
  • The Dental Elf
  • The Musculoskeletal Elf
  • The Commissioning Elf
  • The Child Elf
  • The Stroke Elf
  • The Diabetes Elf
  • The Lifestyle Elf
  • The Education Elf

About the National Elf Service
The National Elf Service is a collection of evidence-based websites aimed at health and social care professionals. The service is written by professionals, for professionals, and helps busy practitioners keep up to date with the large volumes of high quality research, policy and guidance that are relevant to their practice. The busy elves find all of the important relevant research, critically appraise it, summarise it in short and easy to read blogs, which include a clinical commentary putting the evidence into context.

The National Elf Service is owned and managed by Minervation Ltd, an Oxford University spin-out company who have worked in the field of evidence-based healthcare consultancy since the mid-1990s. Minervation have built an international reputation working with leading charities, public sector organisations and evidence-based healthcare clients. For more information, please visit