The Institute for Family Health and the National Library of Medicine…

The Institute for Family Health and the National Library of Medicine Help New York Patients Find Health Information Online


New York, NY (October 13, 2009) – The Institute for Family Health, a New York-based community health center, has teamed up with the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and electronic health record vendor Epic (Verona, WI), to create direct links between patients’ personal electronic health records and, NLM’s database of authoritative consumer health information.  Thanks to this unique public-private partnership, Institute patients have tailored access to reliable online health information right at their fingertips.

The collaborative effort is helping Institute patients navigate the wealth of health resources on the Internet so they can better understand and manage their health conditions. The Institute first launched its electronic heath record “patient portal” in 2008, with funding from HRSA. Now when Institute patients login to view their medical record, they can click on any entry and be directed to the MedlinePlus webpage for information about that diagnosis. “MedlinePlus was a perfect match,” according to Institute President & CEO Neil Calman, M.D. “What NLM has done is create a comprehensive public source of reliable consumer health information. What we’ve done is find a way to put those resources into patients’ hands when they need them.” According to Joyce Backus, Deputy Chief of NLM’s Public Services Division, “This is the first project of its kind for MedlinePlus, and we expect to support others as health IT evolves.”

The Institute’s patient portal, developed by Epic and modified by Institute technology experts, allows patients to view their electronic medical records over a secure Internet connection. “Epic developed the MyChart patient portal to put patients back in charge of their health care,” noted Epic CEO Judy Faulkner.  “The Institute for Family Health is leading the way in using this application to help patients understand their health and to get the best care possible.”

The MedlinePlus website, launched by NLM in 1998, provides a wide range of free health information for a lay audience, and includes over 20,000 links to other authoritative sources.  Materials on many topics are written at a 5th-8th grade reading level and are available in up to 26 languages.  The Institute’s 72,000 patients have a range of health and computer literacy levels and are often more facile in a language other than English; the goal was to find a solution that worked for all patients. 

“Our hope is that other health care providers who are adopting EHRs will tap into this rich national resource to bring health information to their patients,” said Dr. Calman, who in 2009 was appointed to President Obama’s national Health Information Technology Policy Panel. “We thank our colleagues at HRSA, the National Library of Medicine, and Epic Systems for the ground-breaking collaboration that made such critical health information available to our patients.”