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This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, June 2017
Patient education may be defined as "...information used to help patients learn about their illnesses/conditions, and to help guide their self-care when required. Patient education information is focused on the needs of patients and used by health professionals in conjunction with other teaching. Patient education information can come in a variety of formats." As a critical component of information services in many organizations, hospitals and academic libraries, patient education is often an entirely separate service but may be integrated with research. In both cases, patient information can be provided based on using the best evidence, and tailored to local health procedures and services. Many hospitals author, review and approve patient information for use within their institutions, and make them digitally-accessible. Put simply, patient education activities focus on the information needs of the patient, and can be used by health professionals to provide patient care support. Many hospital libraries in Canada and the United States provide some form of patient education support, if not actual library services. If done well, this service can translate into better patient care as patients undergoing treatment and surgery may cope more effectively.
The principle of open access should be extended to all patients who want to find health information and should include providing access to their electronic patient record, where possible. Some hospital libraries try to collaborate with health professionals on staff in hospitals in order to effectively disseminate information to patients but this can vary considerably across jurisdictions. Health librarians can save clinicians' time in the pursuit of information for patients and consumers. Patient publications may come in the form of pamphlets, digital files and links to websites; they can also be translated into other languages such as French, Spanish and Chinese. Generally, these materials are written at a grade 8 reading level. Here are some files that physicians use to communicate with patients: Medical French for health workers and Medical Chinese for health workers.
For a detailed look into "Answering health & medical reference questions: an introduction for information professionals" see these ppts and handout.)
Health librarians' roles
The library's traditional role of providing recreational reading to patients has been transformed into delivering information to patients at the most basic reading levels all the way up to a high level requiring expert or advanced medical knowledge. It makes sense that libraries should promote the educational activities that take place within hospitals, and to involve health librarians in those efforts. In many modern health organizations, health educators, physicians, and librarians collaborate on projects and consumer health initiatives. Historically, patient education was conducted by nurses or physicians in the clinic, hospital or physician's office. It's been said that patient education begins from the moment a clinician enters the examination room to greet a patient. However, all health professionals are responsible for explaining what will happen during medical procedures or as a prelude to patients signing consent forms. Many health libraries collect, organize and provide access to sources of information to assist in the provision of patient education. The Internet, with its vast resources and information diversity, has made it vitally important to impose some regulations on the creation of locally-relevant patient materials. Many hospitals and health organizations expect their libraries and librarians to follow these procedures when providing information services.
Google health & Microsoft Vault
In 2008, Google launched its own electronic patient information system called Google health (retired in 2012). Microsoft HealthVault and other similar free web services for consumers - such as the open source Dossia - Lifelong Personally-Controlled Health Record - seek to help patients track personal health information as they move through the health system. The goal with health record projects is to make personal health information accessible and transportable - which is of benefit to both consumers and physicians. In addition to Dossia, the open source Tolven Healthcare integrates the three aspects of e-health: personal health information, information held by physicians and by health organizations using informatics platforms.
Disclaimer:The HLWIKI International Advisory makes consumer health information (CHI) available to all -- however, it is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice or as a substitute for consulting a doctor. While we strive to keep all content current and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability or suitability of information, products, services, or related graphics contained here or on any of the websites listed. Only qualified health providers can provide health care e.g., they will take your health history, examine you, and bring their expertise and experience to bear on evaluating you. Put simply, advice regarding your care should always include your physician and other health providers. Please ask your local health librarian for further assistance.