Winter weather preparedness is just as important as surviving the heat of the summer!
Did you know that you can use the same emergency preparedness kit you made for summer storms with only a few adjustments? In addition to including standard kit items (such as food, water, batteries, hand-crank radio, first aid supplies, medication, etc.), cold weather items should be added.
Sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members
Ample alternate heating methods such as fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website also has some great resources for frequently asked questions about winter weather, such as recognizing signs and symptoms of hypothermia and knowing what to do if stranded in cold weather.
Ready.gov is another great place to look for winter weather preparedness resources. This website takes you through every step of preparing for winter weather, from beginning (like winterizing your vehicle and home), to during (like dressing for winter and driving in icy conditions), to after the weather has passed. Also included are related websites with additional information.
According to The Diagnosis Difference, a new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “many people with serious health concerns take their health decisions seriously—and are seriously social about gathering and sharing information, both online and offline.” While the report shows that adults with chronic conditions are often less likely to be online, the report also shows that when adults with chronic conditions do go online they engage in social networks and health outlets to gather and share health information.
According to the report “internet users living with one or more conditions are more likely than other online adults to:
Gather information online about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.
Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.
Read or watch something online about someone else’s personal health experience.”
Libraries can have an impact for online health seekers. According to the report “30% of online health information seekers living with chronic conditions were asked to pay for something they wanted to access online.” When met with a pay wall, only 2% reported paying the fee to access full content. 17% gave up trying to access the content. The remaining information seekers attempted to find the same information elsewhere for free.
While adults with chronic conditions are gathering health information online, they are also more likely than others to talk with a clinician about what they find. For adults with chronic conditions, clinicians are the central source of information, but support groups, friends, and family also play an important role. According to the report “having a chronic condition significantly increases the likelihood someone got information or support from a doctor or health care professional, friends or family, or others with the same health condition.”
The report also demonstrates that individuals living with chronic conditions are “significantly more likely than other adults to track weight, diet, exercise, or health indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep patterns, or headaches.”
Adults living with chronic conditions who take their illness seriously are able to research and share information through online and face-to-face methods. This group has different health information seeking behaviors which set them apart from others. The video provides an brief summary of the report findings.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has created a new tool to “asses the understandability and actionability of print and audiovisual patient education materials”, entitled the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (or PEMAT). Patient education materials such as brochures and other aids are often complex and difficult for patients to understand, especially across various healthcare providers. This tool is designed to help health care providers, health librarians, and other health professionals in charge of providing materials to consumers evaluate their print and audiovisual materials. If the materials meet a certain score, then most patients and consumers should be able to understand these materials and act on the information provided.
The AHRQ website includes the instrument that can be used for both print and audiovisual materials, as well as a user guide and instructions on scoring.
On December 3, 2013 the NN/LM SCR office hosted a webinar entitled, Healthy Beginnings: Information Resources for Maternal and Infant Health. Geared towards public health professionals, this presentation showcased free Internet resources used to promote health education and better prenatal care. This webinar came about as a direct result of the NN/LM SCR’s Public Health Regional Advisory Council meeting .
The continued growth of digital content and e-books has lead to an explosion of digital library projects. According to a study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project released this past summer, trends show that American’s are gradually reading more materials in digital form. Recent developments related to the legality of large-scale projects such as Google Books project has further brought attention to the growing demand for e-book content and services. As librarians and publishers continue to sort through legal issues related to e-book licensing, it is important to note that several digital library projects are underway.
E-books and digital content got a boost last month when a long awaited ruling in a case against Google Books was announced. The Google Books project began in 2004 and included efforts to scan and make digitally available books from university and public libraries around the world. For books that were in the public domain or where the author had given permission, the full text of the book was scanned and made digitally available through the Google Books interface for free. For books which were still under copyright, scans were made with the idea that Google Books users could search the full text and preview a limited number of pages for free but then be required to purchase the title to read more. With scanning continuing, in 2005 the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishes filed suit against Google claiming the Google Books project caused “massive copyright infringement.” Last month, after many years of legal procedures, a U.S. district court judge sided with Google and their claim of “fair use” for the scanning project. While the Authors Guild plans to appeal this ruling, it is important to take note of the impact the Google Books project has made in the past nine years.
According to Google the project currently includes 30 million scanned books all of which can be searched for free making it one of the largest collections of digital resources. While the full text of copyrighted materials cannot be viewed in full, many books in the project continue to provide previews of the content. The full text of materials out of copyright is freely available.
Founded in 1996 and launched in 2001, Internet Archive provides permanent storage of and free access to digital collections. Internet Archive is a storage location not only for over four million public domain books, but it also provides access to archived websites, moving images, and music. Internet Archive also allows the public to upload and download digital content. Many museums and universities have uploaded their content into the system. In 2007 Internet Archive began uploading public domain books from the Google Books project. Another project of Internet Archive is the Open Library which provides free full text access to over one million public domain books as well as an e-book lending program with over 250,000 recent books which are still under copyright. These books can be borrowed by Open Library card holders. Registration for Open Library is free. This digital lending program is made possible through partnerships with libraries around the world.
The collections of the Medical Heritage Library is included in the Internet Archive as a special collection of freely available materials.
The HathiTrust Digital Library launched in 2008 and is designed as a large-scale collaborative digital repository for content including materials digitized by the Google Books project and Internet Archive. HathiTrust includes partnerships with research libraries around the world with costs being shared among the participants. In 2012 HathiTrust reported over 10 million digital volumes, 2.7 of which are in the public domain. HathiTrust provides free search of its repository as well as full access to free content.
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is the newest large-scale digital library project. Launched in early 2013, DPLA aims to unify large siloed digital collections such as those from the Library Congress, HathiTrust, Internet Archive, and other collections. According to project founder Robert Darnton, by using a distributed system of service hubs as well as application programing interface (API) and open data tools, DPLA hopes to “make the holdings of America’s libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans – and eventually to everyone in the world, online and free of charge.”
Have you been interested in using Creative Commons licenses on your work but unsure about the options? Last month Creative Commons announced the latest version of their license which makes registering and using the license much easier. The 4.0 licenses are available for adoption and use worldwide. The new license structure makes it easier to share and reuse CC licensed materials. The CC license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable free distribution of otherwise copyrighted work. The new version of the license provides an easy-to-use interface that allows license seekers to select how they want their materials to be used and generates an icon which can be downloaded for free and applied to the work or added to a website using code.
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization. According to their mission statement, “Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Healthcare.gov website continue to be much in the news, and several important updates have taken place recently. The Healthcare.gov website has undergone a number of updates related to the numerous technical problems previously encountered, and the site now has a new look. Three options are immediately presented to visitors to the site: See Plans Before I Apply; See If I Can Get Lower Costs; and Apply Now for Health Coverage. The deadline for coverage beginning January 1, 2014 has also been extended to December 23, 2013.
Regular scheduled maintenance to the site has provided software improvements and hardware upgrades such that “90 percent of users are now able to create accounts” (Health Insurance Marketplace update Nov. 27, 2013). In addition to online enrollment, there are still three other options available: via the Marketplace Call Center (1-800-318-2596), completion of a paper application form submitted via mail, and speaking in person to a trained counselor via LocalHelp.Healthcare.gov .
Organizations identified as Champions for Coverage continue to be added to the growing list, and the NN/LM SCR is now identified as a Champion for Coverage.
Hard copies of materials to distribute throughout enrollment are available at no cost from CMS in limited quantities for order. If you are interested in ordering products, visit: http://productordering.cms.hhs.gov to set up an account to order. However, materials are also available for free to download and print as many as needed.
Health care is undergoing a virtual information revolution, fueled by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which permits reimbursement incentives for eligible professionals and hospitals that meet criteria for becoming “meaningful users” of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology.
“Meaningful use” is defined, in part, as using EHRs to improve and demonstrate the quality of care, such as e-prescribing, electronic exchange of health information, and submission of quality measures to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS has set standards to meaningful use that are to be met in stages. According to a post by American Medical News, organizations are currently working on Stage 1 implementation; Stage 2 implementation starts in 2014.
MedlinePlus Connect is a free service that supports health professionals’ ability to provide health information to their patients, which they will be expected to do (and document) in Stage 2 of implementation. Designed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the service links EHR systems to MedlinePlus.gov, an authoritative up-to-date health information resource for patients, families, and health care providers.
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) is assisting the NLM with promoting MedlinePlus Connect. An NN/LM task force conducted interviews with 17 key informants representing the broad spectrum of organizations that are involved with EHR implementation.
The interviews included discussion with some innovative hospital librarians who are taking advantage of the dynamic EHR environment and finding ways to be involved with meaningful use at their organizations.
Key informants provided insight into the aspects of MedlinePlus Connect that are major advantages of the service from their perspective:
The material is evidence-based and updated regularly.
MedlinePlus links to primary literature, which is becoming increasingly popular among patients as they become more sophisticated in locating health information.
Patient information is provided in varying reading levels, multi-media formats, and different languages, with an extensive database of Spanish-language materials.
Health IT professionals will find easy instructions for integrating MedlinePlus Connect into EHRs.
MedlinePlus Connect allows health organizations to maintain their identifying information when MedlinePlus information is sought.
The fact that MedlinePlus Connect can be added to EHRs at no cost to users was a definite advantage, but key informants cautioned against calling it a “free resource,” a term that has a negative connotation among health professionals. It would be more effective to call it a “non-commercial service paid for by the National Library of Medicine with no cost to users.”
The time to promote MedlinePlus Connect is now. Key informants said that patient portals were the emerging issue of the year as organizations focus on Stage 2 criteria.
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recently released Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. According to the standards “visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.”
In education today emphasis has been placed on many forms of literacy. As more visual and media elements are incorporated into education, visual literacy will continue to play a role in education. Today’s learning environments are rich with media and visual elements. Digital technology is also increasing access to visual content. Through the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices students also have increased ability to create their own photos and post visual content online. Although students are engaging more and more with visual media, they may not have increased visual literacy skills.
According to the standards put forth by the ACR, “visual literacy education is typically a collaborative endeavor, involving faculty, librarians, curators, archivists, visual resources professionals, and learning technologists. Libraries play an important role in this process by selecting and providing quality image resources, developing research and subject guides for images, teaching image research strategies, and raising awareness of the ethical use of visual media. Libraries are also established partners in working with students to develop the critical thinking and evaluation skills essential to participation in visual culture.”
Also addressed in the new standards is accessibility of visual materials for individuals who have visual impairments. The standards stress the importance of the use of assistive technologies which include audio descriptions of visual materials.
A complete overview of the standards as well as additional information about visual literacy can be found on the ACRL’s Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education webpage. Librarians and educators are encouraged to review the content and incorporate visual literacy into information literacy instruction and interactions.