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New MedlinePlus Web Service

NLM recently launched the NLM API Web page for software developers listing all of the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Web services offered by the library (read more about it in the NLM Technical Bulletin). NLM’s APIs and Web services are freely available to the public, and software developers can build applications that use the data and functionality they provide.

The NLM API page lists a new service from MedlinePlus. The MedlinePlus Health Topics Web Service provides access to MedlinePlus health topic data in XML format. The service accepts keyword searches as requests and returns links to relevant English-language health topics in ranked order. The output also includes supplemental data such as health topic summaries, related vocabulary, and keyword-in-context snippets.

Documentation for developers is available (and you can sign up on to receive email updates about the service). Please feel free to share this new service with your colleagues and technical teams. If you build or learn of any applications that use the MedlinePlus Health Topics Web service, the MedlinePlus team would love to hear about it. Let them know via the Contact Us link on MedlinePlus.

This MedlinePlus Web service differs from MedlinePlus Connect, which is a forthcoming product you may have heard about. MedlinePlus Connect will connect electronic medical records, electronic health records and patient health records to MedlinePlus topic pages and drug information. MedlinePlus Connect uses the problem codes and drug codes inherent in these systems to make the connections between the EMR/EHR/PHR and MedlinePlus. The National Library of Medicine plans to release the MedlinePlus Connect service later this fall.

A skilled developer could integrate the newly-released MedlinePlus Health Topics Web service to connect an EMR/EHR/PHR to MedlinePlus. However, it’s best to wait for the release of MedlinePlus Connect, which leverages the standardized vocabulary used by the EMR/EHR/PHR.

If you have any questions, send them to the MedlinePlus team via the Contact Us link on MedlinePlus.

One Response to “New MedlinePlus Web Service”

  1. Hope Leman Says:

    Hi, Susan. Thanks so much for the very helpful post–it is perfect timing in case some librarians want to submit a proposal to Oregon State University Capstone Project, which I wrote about here:

    I would urge medical librarians to look over the APIs on the NLM API Web page and think about creating services that they could offer their patrons and the greater world. The deadline for submitting proposals to the OSU Capstone project is September 27.