Health Care Literacy

As a patient, outside of the medical field, it can be overwhelming trying to understand terms within diagnoses and treatments – so the ultimate trust is placed in the hands of medical professionals.  Too many times people have assumed that what their doctors prescribe must be the best option, otherwise they wouldn’t prescribe it, right?  Unfortunately there have been many cases where this is not the reality, and patients are not receiving the treatment they need and deserve.  Health care and health literacy are crucial for everyone, education is key.

Check out this video of real patients beings asked questions about their health care, including prescriptions and treatments: 


MEDLIB-L Listserv

Anyone working in or interested in pursuing a career in the medical librarianship field should be sure to take advantage of the MEDLIB-L listserv and all the opportunities for outreach and collaboration it offers amongst professionals in the field.  Many of the daily requests sent out through the listserv pertain to interlibrary loan requests, although a wide variety of other topics and questions are discussed within the community.  This is a great resource, offering a wealth of information from experts in field,  to subscribe to the listserv and expand your personal learning network today, click here!

A Clinical Informationist Model

Article Summary #8

AKA Article Summary #8

Physicians don’t, and never will, have [one hour or more] to look for the answers to most of their clinical questions themselves.”

-Davidoff & Florance (2000)

The research gathered and completed through the review of a staffing model at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, provides compelling evidence for the necessity of clinical informationists or librarians to be installed into healthcare units.  The combination of physicians who are stretched thin already, with very little time for research outside of their daily demands with patients, and the exponentially increasing medical literature available often leads to the conclusion that an informationist and/or librarian needs to be available to complete research.  These positions are becoming more and more crucial in the medical field, in order for patients to receive the best care possible.

As the need for clinical informationists is continuously established within the medical field, models for how healthcare organizations can implement procedures and policies as they relate to these positions, are very important to establish best practices. This study looked at how one specific medical center selected to approach the demand, employing the Clinical Informationist Model.  The Eskind Biomedical Library within Vanderbilt University, uses this model, to “…integrat[e] expert information provision with informantics systems.”  The position of the clinical informationist is one which requires an individual to provide answers to questions which arise during patient care.  The development of the model within the university proved that the immersion of librarians within healthcare teams was essential for the success of the newly established informational flow. This inevitably led to new procedures for training, including the creation or the Clinical Informatics Consult Service, which helped to support the relay of evidence-based information, provided at (or shortly after) the point of care, provided by clinical librarians and informationists.

Similar to other studies we have read and learned about in LS 534, this article provided another example of how crucial and valuable clinical librarians can be, especially when they are embedded within the care team, providing information on the spot for physicians.  It is fascinating to learn that as many of the other various “strands” of librarianship are feeling pressure to prove their worth and the necessity for them, clinical librarians are becoming seemingly more pertinent to the medical field.  It is always interesting to learn of other models established in this field, to learn about further potential positions I could hold in the future if I continue to pursue this field within librarianship.



Giuse, N., Koonce, T., Jerome, R., Cahall, M., Sathe, N., & Williams, A. (2005). Evolution of a mature clinical informationist model. Journal Of The American Medical Informatics Association, 12(3), 249-255 7p.

Is Apple’s ResearchKit App a Success?

The application ResearchKit, created by Apple, is still only in its first year of use, and so far it has provided many users with heightened communication between themselves and their doctors – which was its basic purpose.  I personally, have never heard about this app, although it seems that even with all of the successes it has seen in its infancy – like any other new technology – there are kinks to work out.  It definitely sounds like this could be the start of a very beneficial and useful tool for patients and doctors, once it becomes more widely available and if used more consistently.

Learn more about the app, its uses, and the statistics that are associated with it by clicking here and reading the Fast Company article published just a few days ago.

The Role of an In-Patient Care Clinical Medical Librarian

…say that 10 times fast…

AKA Article Summary #7

The intention of the study outlined within the article, published in 2013, was to provide insight on whether or not a Clinical Medical Librarian’s (CML) role on an in-patient care team impacted the outcome of the patients being treated.  The study took place at Louisiana State University’s Health Shreveport campus, which served an urban population of patients.  It measured the patient outcomes of those patients which required research by the CML on the team, versus the individuals who received care without the CML taking an active role on their case.  The study found that ultimately there were no major differences in clinical outcomes between the two groups of patients.  It was determined that patients possessing more complex medical issues, required more research to be completed by the CML, which could have been assumed.

Although this study was specifically reviewing how a CML impacted patient outcomes, I was also able to pull several other valuable pieces of information from its pages – all of which pertain to what the role of a CML actually looks like.  This insight was much more important to me than the methods and results of the actual study, although it was fairly interesting to review that scope of it, as well.

While completing the study, the CML participated in daily, morning rounds –  these always included  a faculty attending physician, a second or third year resident, and two interns.  The CML would provide answers which arose while on the rounds, by searching in online medical information resources, or if unable to answer complex queries, the CML would provide responses and information in a follow-up email.  Over the course of the study, a total of 334 questions were asked by the team to the CML, 258 of these were unique patient queries.  Also, of the 334 asked questions, 274 were answered via a follow-up email, while the remaining 60 were answered at the point of care.  I found these numbers interesting, and to have brought a bit of relief to my mind, in terms of what the demands of a medical librarian look like.  I understand that this study’s results are specific to a location and hospital, however it is good to know that the answer may not always be found immediately and that is acceptable – further research will most likely need to be done.

More interesting statistics from the study, include the numbers related to the breakdown of types of questions asked of the CML, by the care team.  Out of the 334 queries, 121 were related to treatment, 82 related to diagnostic, 81 reviews, 43 epidemiology and another 7 were categorized as “other”.  As someone only just beginning to learn about the field of medical librarianship, even I was not surprised by these results.  It seems to make sense that treatment would be the top type of query by physicians.

Overall, the study itself did not serve to provide any great impact on how a CML’s role can relate to a patient’s care outcome, however the article did provide a lot of unforeseen insight for a newbie to the medical librarianship realm.


Esparza, J. M., Shi, R., McLarty, J., Comegys, M., & Banks, D. E. (2013). The effect of a clinical medical librarian on in-patient care outcomes.Journal Of The Medical Library Association, 101(3), 185-191 7p. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.101.3.007

Librarians at U of M Meet Research Complex’ Diverse Needs

AKA Article Summary #6

In 2009, the University of Michigan selected to acquire and develop a 28-building research complex, which became known as the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC).  The facilities provided housing for research projects revolving around 7 major programs within the university, and a staff of 2,135 people.  The acquisition of the complex resulted in the need for a more involved library role, which would provide the complex and its users necessary tools and information to complete their work.  The University Library (MLibrary) developed a focused library, which would be at the new facilities disposal, and it would be called MLibrary@NCRC.  The specialized library officially opened its doors in July of 2012, after the research discussed below took place, and the primary positions were created.

In order to properly assess the needs of the students, researchers, staff, and faculty of NCRC, the librarians working within the newly opened library chose to disseminate a survey, as well as complete a variety of interviews.  Their research found 5 major themes related to information needs of the complex: lack of awareness of Taubman Health Sciences Library (THL) services and resources, patron preference for interacting with a person, barriers to sharing information, general challenges related to the complex university environment, and interest in and need for THL-provided workshops or training sessions.

Based on the findings of the surveys and interviews, the THL selected a few key librarians to fulfill roles which would begin their attempt at strengthening library presence at NCRC.  The first of these positions is a Bioinformationist, whose role is as diverse as the next two that are discussed in the article.  The Bioinformationist’s primary focuses are training, outreach, and programming.  She works closely with the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, building relationships with staff, faculty, and students.  The second crucial position developed was that of the Public/Private Librarian, whose primary role is to create and manage partnerships.  One example of a partnership developed was with the Business Engagement Center and Business Development – the librarian even held office hours within the Business Development unit.  The third and final position created to be tailored the diverse needs of the complex, was that of a “traditional” Research Librarian.  This librarian’s role was to act as a liaison to the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, providing in-depth consultations related to citation databases and support researchers, staff, and administrators who work in preclinical, clinical and translations research.

The librarians utilized a variety of metrics, in order to measure whether or not their roles were meeting the needs of the diverse population of individuals they served.  They continue to use these to monitor and strengthen their program, always ensuring they are doing everything they can to provide their users with the proper tools and education.

If nothing else, this article provided yet another example of how varied the field of librarianship can be.  The needs of the user will always dictate the role of the librarian, it is crucial that those in our profession are constantly assessing and paying attention to needs and wants of our patrons.  We exist because they require our aid, without them we would out of a job! 🙂



Smith, J. E., Brandenburg, M. D., Conte, M. L., & Song, J. (2014). Innovative information service development: meeting the information needs of an interdisciplinary, cross-sector research complex. Journal Of The Medical Library Association, 102(1), 8-13 6p. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.102.1.004