Tuesday, October 06, 2009

How librarians can help to improve healthcare services by acting as infomediaries

Librarians are information specialists and can help in providing information therapy to patients. The key is to understanding what their role should be.

While they cannot replace the doctor, they can definitely help the patient to become better informed , so he can ask his doctor the right questions ! While google is great, unfortunately many patients cannot find the information they need. Sometimes they do not know what medical words they should be using when doing a search . This is an easy problem for a librarian to fix. He can correct typos; and use the right technical words as keywords when doing a search.

Often, patients get lost because there is too much information and they cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. A librarian can provide a guiding hand, and help direct them to reliable trust-worthy websites.

Sometimes, the patient's needs are more sophisticated, and the librarian can help them to find more technical, in-depth information from medical books and journals.

Finally, when patients are confused because they get conflicting information from their doctors, librarians can be very helpful to resolve the dilemma because they provide objective published information which can be carefully scrutinised and studied . They can help patients to make intelligent use of EBM ( evidence-based medicine) because they have no axe to grind.

Librarians are a very under-utilised resource . They can be used much more efficiently ! We are trying to do so with our free Ask the HELP Librarian service at http://helpforhealth.org/information.htm

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