In efforts to put the best evidence-based information at the fingertips of patients, clinical librarian Mary Simons has collaborated with doctors from the Hospital to compile a resource-rich collection that supports consumer education.

Clinical librarians play a crucial role at Macquarie University Hospital and more broadly at MQ Health, helping doctors access the latest evidence-based information quickly and effectively. Mary Simons is one of two Macquarie University clinical librarians that support the Faculty of Medical and Health Science – researchers, students and hospital staff.

Mary regularly attends multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings across a number of disciplines at the Hospital in cancer, neuro-oncology and others. This allows her to respond to information needs as they arise.

Several years ago, she saw doctors wanting to provide their patients with relevant evidence-based information, but frustrated that they had no extra time to track down and deliver specific information relevant to each patient.

“In the MDTs, doctors talked about the need for patients to have reliable information – good credible information refereed through the publication system and filtered by qualified medical professionals,” said Mary.

“Patients typically Google their symptoms or diagnosis, or rely on the popular press. Often, this doesn’t serve them well as they can get inaccurate or incomplete information.”

Working with doctors, Mary started to put the resources together. She then collaborated with web developers to establish a website, first launched in 2012, then re-designed to accommodate expanding resources and consumer interest in 2016.

Today, the Hospital has a well-designed platform and an outstanding patient-focused resource – one that confidently provides the latest evidence-based information.

The team started with cancer, and the site has information on nine different types of cancers. It also has ‘Stats and facts’ and ‘Practical tips’ sections, along with information on the latest technologies – including PET scan and Gamma Knife.

Information ranges from peer-reviewed research in the top international journals, to links to relevant websites and peak bodies, to mobile phone apps.

Importantly, the site is also embedded into their bedside consoles for all patients on wards. For the elderly or people who prefer a hard copy, nurses can print pages on the ward.

“Consumer education plays an important role in assisting patients and their families with decision-making,” said Mary. “This ultimately enhances patient outcomes.

“The next phase of the website is to move beyond cancer. Medicine is a constantly evolving field, so we see this as a living document.”

The resource is freely available to the public. Please click here for more information.