Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why patient education libraries are important

" Traditionally future health professionals were very often simply expected
to learn and memorize the structure of their chosen field of medicine and
then apply it for patient care.

However a complete top down approach delivered on the basis of human
memory in present day health care is increasingly unable to support health
care practice as the volume of information keeps growing by leaps and

"Half of what you are taught as medical students will in ten years have
been shown to be wrong. And the trouble is, none of your teachers know
which half"
Sydney Burwell, Dean, Harvard Medical School 1956

One response of the present health care structure to this problem has been
an ant like division of labor where health care workers specialize in
certain areas so that they can focus on a smaller volume/area of
accumulated information and thus offer their expertise in their chosen

There is an old adage often used to qualify this approach as, "Knowing
more and more about less and less until one has known everything about

Interestingly there isn't much historical evidence to suggest that this
approach is doing wonders to present day health care. (Loefler 2000) On
the contrary present day patient satisfaction with health care seems to be
at an all time low. (Kenagy 2002)

One of the important present day problems with this approach is that from
the patient perspective finding the health professional with the
appropriate expertise to tackle their particular individual problem
becomes like looking for a needle in a haystack.

This is where the library model and the medical information scientist
adding informational services to patients comes in with a ray of hope."

Loefler IJ, (2000) Are generalists still needed in a specialized world?
The renaissance of general surgery. BMJ. 2000 Feb 12; 320(7232): 436-40.

Kenagy J W, Christensen C M, (2002) Disruptive Innovation - New Diagnosis
and Treatment for the Systemic Maladies of Healthcare, Business briefing:
global health care

Dr Rakesh Biswas. Malaysia

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