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Transcript: Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan Describes Vision For NLM

[Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan]

We did, in Project Health Design something that I think has actually accelerated the idea that information plays a role in people's health in an everyday basis...it doesn't look like a medical record...and so what I think was originally envisioned that we would have a medical record and a personal record and they would somehow be in parallel...we're now realizing that we need to have a data substrate for people's lives and the idea of the tools that help you act upon it, whether you're a clinician trying to decide on an antibiotic or a mom trying to figure out whether to send her kids to school or not, you use different pieces of information...

When we think about library patrons we think about people walking into a building...over the last 25 years that certainly has changed--people may be sitting at their desk or in a living room with their laptop or their tablet and interacting with the health information and the resources of the National Library of Medicine.

I believe the National Library of Medicine has an important role to play in the Precision Medicine Initiative...and I believe that role's going to be showing up in a number of the existing services already seen in the Library so there'll be enormous amounts of information...

But in addition there's a big component of Precision Medicine that hits right at the Library's sweet spot...and that is delivering information back to individuals...

The National Library of Medicine's role, I think, needs to be first and foremost to be driving the identification, curation and storage decisions...

Secondly and more importantly our...

History of delivering information at a point of need, now has a whole new challenge because the point of need is not a singular point but it might be a lifespan--what information needs to be presented to which person at what time, so I see a robust future for us in developing tools for information dispensing and distribution that will allow for not just a point of information but a pathway of information…

We're going to have a new understanding of what is health...and the Library will be at the center of making sure that's accessible and understandable. 

The idea in nursing--our social contract--says that we focus on the diagnostic and treatment of human response to disease development and crisis...so the difference in our biomedical science colleagues and our physician colleagues, we don't focus on fundamental pathology nearly as much as we focus on the human response...and that might be an individual in a family, it might be the collective response of a community, and so our framing of questions and our identification of what literatures are important are a bit more expansive.  

I would say that health is not a spectator sport...that there are ways that you can train yourself to become more healthful in the way you live, as you train yourself to become a better bicyclist or basketball player...and so what the National Library of Medicine has is the training manuals, is the content, is the pathway...

And finally, and most importantly...the recognition that our tax dollars are funding this resource--it's there and they're already paying for it--so we should be making use of it.

Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine https://www.nlm.nih.gov has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice and is a leader in information innovation. NLM is the world's largest medical library, and millions of scientists, health professionals and the public around the world use NLM services every day.

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