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NLM Paper Honored at AMIA 2008

A National Library of Medicine (NLM) project to help people find and evaluate nursing homes won a Distinguished Paper Award at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) 2008 symposium.

Every year in the United States, millions of people choose a nursing home because they or a loved one are too sick to live on their own, or need short-term help after an operation or illness. Recognizing that the search for a good nursing home can be lengthy, or may have to be done at a stressful time, NLM is developing an easy-to-use Web site to help people quickly locate nursing homes and screen them for quality.

The Nursing Home Screener, currently in prototype form, uses Web 2.0 technology to display multiple nursing homes on a Google map so it is easier to use. A list of homes is also provided, as an option. The screener enables people to survey nursing home quality in four categories: staffing, fire safety deficiencies, healthcare deficiencies, and quality of care inferred from residents' health. The quality measures come from the publicly-available information that federally-funded nursing homes must provide to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

"The whole point of the screener is to help someone identify nursing homes that are most worth further investigation or a personal visit," says George Thoma, PhD, Chief of the Communications Engineering Branch in NLM's Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications. Thoma co-authored the paper with principal author Glenn Pearson, PhD, and Michael Gill.

The NLM team says it is developing the screener for older Americans who may be looking for a home for themselves or spouse, for middle-aged caregivers, and for health care professionals such as social workers, nurses and physicians who may be involved in the search for a nursing home.

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