MEDLIB-L Archives

June 1999, Week 2


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Rochelle Schmalz <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 18:34:55 -0500
text/plain (63 lines)
As the medical librarian for, and someone who has been involved with patient
education/consumer health information for over 23 years, I feel I must respond to this posting.  I am also
the library director for a new medical school library and former hospital librarian so I've seen both sides.

Maybe some of these websites are in it for the money, but they also are filling an unmet need for
information.  Under managed care many doctors simply do not have enough time to answer their patients'
questions.  Many people do not live near a consumer health or medical library and even if they do, they
may be unable to get there due to disability or age.  These websites are meeting a real need for
information.  My only concern is that the information is accurate and current.

 As the HealthCentral medical librarian I write a bi-weekly column telling people how to find health and
medical information on the Internet. I also do some site and book selection.  In addition, I answer about
15 e-mails a week on how to find information; HealthCentral pays me to do this and people are not
charged.  I do not answer specific medical questions, just how to find the information. HealthCentral
features Dr. Dean Edell who will answer five questions per week from HealthCentral readers. I often refer
people to him if the question is beyond my scope.  And I do suggest that people go back to their doctor
or pharmacist when necessary.

The e-mail I get indicates that people are so grateful that I responded, understood their concerns and
directed them to the appropriate information. The inquiries I get are not from hypochondriacs, but
from people seriously concerned about their or a family member's health.  Many of the inquiries ask about
the validity of certain dietary supplements which indicates to me an empowered consumer. Personally, I
feel privileged that I am able help people in their quest for reliable information.

I know of one other medical website librarian and have recently seen ads for a few others.  As medical
librarians our main concern should not be the proliferation of medical websites, but that these websites
hire librarians to help them put out the best product.

Rochelle Perrine Schmalz, MLS

These comments are my own and not HealthCentral's.

On 06/10/99 07:02:48 you wrote:
>On the B! (Market Place) page of today's Wall St. Journal, an item Titled:
>Opening paragrph :
>"in the next big land rush on the Internet, the target market is a juicy
>one: cyberchondriacs.  Famous medical centers, unknown online startups
>and bif media companies are all jockeying to create Web sites where
>cnsumers can find out about their health".  The article discuses
>, and I know all of us can add some, too.
>Remind me of a joke I heard some time ago on Public Radio - something like
>[log in to unmask] or www.internet.enoughalready
>Dalia Kleinmuntz                                          847/570-2664
>Webster Library                                      FAX: 847/570-2926
>Evanston Hospital
>2650 Ridge Ave
>Evanston IL 60201                                 [log in to unmask]
>"..the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient"
>                                                - Francis W. Peabody
>                                                     (1881-1927)