MLA '02 Open Forum
An open forum session was held on the informationist concept on May 20, 2002, as part of MLA '02 in Dallas, Texas. The forum consisted of a panel report on the different activities associated with the informationist concept to date, followed by a question and answer session.
Jean Shipman, AHIP, chair of the MLA Informationist Conference Task Force, introduced the panel session and speakers that included other members of the MLA Informationist Conference Task Force; Julie McGowan, Ph.D., Carol Jenkins, AHIP, (president of MLA), Diana Cunningham, AHIP, and T. Scott Plutchak, AHIP.
Jean Shipman provided a quick overview of the Informationist Conference held on April 4 and 5th at the National Library of Medicine. Information from the invited conference, including video sessions and speaker presentations, is available on MLANET. Next, Julie McGowan provided some summary ideas (Powerpoint presentation, 90KB) generated by the conference. Diana Cunningham reported on the special MLANET Web discussion session held for all MLA members on May 9, 2002, and on the two MLA '02 Chapter Roundtable sessions. Carol Jenkins discussed further actions MLA intended to take to continue exploration of the concept. Scott Plutchak facilitated a lively question and answer session.
Much of the discussion focused on the viability of the informationist concept and how an informationists role relates to those of hospital librarians and other information specialists. The need for funding and partners to diffuse the concept was also outlined. In addition, skill sets and qualifications required in current job advertisements for informationists were articulated as well as additional work environments beyond the clinical arena. There was a statement that there needs to be more research in the literature for evidence to support this concept and the successful use of information in clinical settings.
Jean Shipman: We all have been challenged to consider the possibility of a new morphed health care professional, the informationist. This challenge came originally from an editorial written by Frank Davidoff, M.D., and Valerie Florance, Ph.D., in the June 2000 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine and was then challenged further by Scott Plutchak via an editorial in our own journal. Today, we are going to review some "steps" that have been taken to date to assess the informationist concept as well as some steps that still need to be taken to further evaluate what these professionals would do, where they would come from, and where they will go.
With this in mind, todays open forum will cover the following:
Dr. Davidoff began by describing the gap between medical science and medical practice. Barriers to accessing knowledge-based information is the primary reason why information is not applied at the bedside. He used Rogers Diffusion of Innovation framework to provide some insight into why this evidence is not diffused more rapidly into practice. Davidoff applauded the work of clinical medical librarians but indicated that the concept has not diffused to an early majority and asked how can we make this happen. He felt we need to encourage the early adopters of clinical information support professionals and make their contributions readily observablethen lead by example.
Dr. Florance also highlighted another barrierthat of an Internet-enabled information environment that makes delivering good quality information a challenge. How does a busy clinician retrieve the best and most applicable subset of information from the vast mass in existence? How can clinicians get ready access to synthesized information relevant to their patient cases? It takes expertise! Informationists can do this if they work within the same context and at the same decision points as clinicians. Florance outlined the various questions that still require answers.
These major questions were then addressed by groups who brainstormed on five major topic areas:
On hearing the group discussion outcomes and the conference speakers, an action agenda panel comprised of representatives from AMIA, MLA, NLM, schools (graduate school of library and information science and schools of medicine), and JCAHO addressed what they could offer to implement the concept.
In summary, lots of excitement was generatedthe overall feeling there is a need but a lot left to explore and flesh out. Summaries and more information about the conference are available on MLANET (http://www.mlanet.org/research/informationist/) and a Journal of the Medical Library Association article was published in October 2002.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2011 December 30