- Introduction: A Top-Level Look at the Future of Federal Medicine
- Military Health System in Time of Transition as Conflicts End
- Army Medicine: Redefining Its Role in the Generation of a Ready and Resilient Force
- Air Force Medicine: Averting an Identity Crisis
- Moving Forward with Reforming the Indian Health Service
- The Clinical Pharmacy Specialist's Growing Provider Role in VA
- Public Health Service Pharmacy: Accelerating Transformation
- Military Pain Management’s Future: Less Invasive, More Data-Driven Techniques
- Navy Medicine: Strong, Agile and Ready
- Telemental Health in VA: A New Source of Support for Veterans
NLM Going Strong After 175 Years of Service Cont.
- Categorized in: This Year in Federal Medicine - Outlook 2012
Increasing Public Awareness and Access to Information
NLM has active outreach programs to make biomedical researchers, health professionals, librarians, patients and the public aware of NLM’s diverse information services. NLM will continue to work through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine and other formal partnerships, including the Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce and the Environmental Health Information Outreach Partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, tribal colleges and other minority-serving institutions, to improve public access to high-quality health information.
Recently, NLM opened a major new exhibition, “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness,” as part of its outreach to populations with serious health disparities and in response to Congressional interest in documenting traditional Native Hawaiian healing practices. NLM continues to expand its successful traveling exhibitions program, too. Examples include the well-received “Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine,” and “Life and Limb: The Toll of the Civil War.”
NLM staff members monitor an emergency in the Disaster Information Management Resource Center (DIMRC). NLM is increasingly harnessing its resources to address issues of disaster preparedness and response.
In 2011, NLM experimented with the use of contests to promote awareness and innovative use of its authoritative databases. Users were invited to celebrate NLM’s 175th anniversary by submitting videos expressing their appreciation of its programs and services, with the winners posted on the NLM YouTube channel. “Show Off Your Apps,” our first software development challenge, elicited 42 interesting entries that made use of dozens of NLM data sources. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the U.S. and HHS Chief Technology Officers, Aneesh Chopra and Todd Park, helped to congratulate the winners. Based on the success of this first foray, more NLM challenges are likely to be forthcoming.
With assistance from other NIH components and outside partners, NLM continues to increase the distribution of its popular NIH MedlinePlus magazine. The free quarterly, which is also available online in Spanish and English, is distributed to doctors’ offices, health-science libraries, Congress, the media, federally-supported community health centers, select hospital emergency and waiting rooms and other locations where the public receives health services nationwide. Depending on the issue, the magazine may be read by over 5 million Americans.
Promoting Scientific Discovery and Speeding the Translation of Research into Practice
For more than 40 years, NLM has conducted and funded research and research training in biomedical informatics — or the application of computer and information sciences to healthcare and biomedical research. Since the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) was established by law at NLM in 1988, the library also has promoted scientific discovery by organizing and providing rapid access for scientists to the massive amounts of genetic sequence data, now resulting from new sequencing technologies that allow complete genomes to be sequenced in days, rather than years.
On the patient-record side, NLM has supported much of the fundamental work on the clinical-information systems and plays a key role in funding and development standard terminologies for electronic health records. The increasing availability of standardized electronic health records already enables direct links from patient data to related medical knowledge, as illustrated by expanding use of NLM’s MedlinePlus Connect feature, which returns authoritative information related to specific problems, medications and test results in an electronic patient record.
NLM also has been a leader in biomedical natural language understanding research by developing, funding and sharing innovative algorithms, resources and tools, including the Unified Medical Language System resources. This research has been applied successfully to indexing, information retrieval, question-answering and literature-based discovery at NLM and by many external researchers, including those working on IBM’s Watson project. Watson’s success in playing “Jeopardy” has highlighted the value of rapid parallel computing of large stores of text and simultaneous execution of multiple hypotheses as an aid to question-answering.
In 2012 and beyond, I see NLM and its grantees bringing many threads together — genomic data, standardized electronic health records, natural-language understanding applied to clinical text and published knowledge, low-cost parallel processing — to make the right information available when and where it is needed. One can only imagine what the next 175 years will bring.