The first day is over, apart from a reception at Trinity College Dublin tonight, so I’ll get my thoughts down on paper before they fade, fragile blooms that they are. There’s an archive and some analytics of the tweets thanks to Symplur at https://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/icmldub/
The conference was opened by Aoife Lawton, Chair of the International Programme Committee, and National Health Service Librarian, Health Service Executive Dublin. She welcomed us, more than 400 delegates from 33 countries. On the theme of Visibility & Vision: the way forward, she described the challenges of health in Ireland, and how library services have set themselves the goal of providing library services to support a Healthy Ireland, the national framework for improving health and well-being. One of her first ports of call was Britain, where she admired our #amilliondecisions campaign. Ireland has its equivalent, #EvidenceInformedHealthcare. She warned of the dangers of losing professional visibility and vision. She cited the Australian AHLA standards (which I can’t find, an awful lot of their site is behind a paywall) and the new MLA competencies. Are we still talking about the same things we talked about in 2012? And will we be talking about the same things five years hence in 2022? She advised us to consider the mega-trends in society, and consider what the mega trends in our profession might be.
After the EAHIL President, Maurella Della Seta, had welcomed us, the first keynote speaker, Hamish Sinclair of the Health Research Board spoke. He pointed out how apt it was that we held our conference in our castle. Dublin Castle was, among many things, the record keeping centre of the colonial administration. We no longer keep knowledge in castles and the researchers of the HRB need vast quantities of data. This is a major national asset that needs management, storage and to be accessible. He gave tribute to the information specialists who work at the HRB, including Louise Farragher. Even when they outsource work, they stipulate that an information specialist must be involved in the project.
Finally, Michelle Kraft (who blogs as KraftyLibrarian and tweets as @krafty) spoke Her theme was Diversity through Disruption. She cited a number of examples of technological change, such as light-bulbs, e-mail, maps, and disappearing jobs such as switchboard operators, newspaper photographers and journalists. She cited a number of examples of libraries and librarians who have innovated, including our very own Caroline de Brun of Public Health England.
It was a good optimistic presentation, though I have to say I think she both over-stated and over-simplified her case, and possibly underestimated the progress we have made in Irish, British and European library services. For example, I think most of us already knew that our users access our services on mobile devices, and have made the necessary arrangements for them to work on such platforms.
After coffee, I went to a consumer health session. While it’s not an area I work in directly, it is a priority for our library and knowledge services, and I thought I might hear something to report back. Bob Gann started off, with an engaging talk on Fake news or clean clear knowledge? Quality in consumer digital health. Bob pointed out that we’ve been talking about these questions for twenty years, and took us through British developments.
He took us through some familiar statistics: 80% of people have looked for health information online, 1 in 5 Google searches is about health, there are over 100,000 health websites, there are 165,000 health apps in the Apple App Store. Cancer Research UK found that over half the cancer articles shared on Facebook contained myths or misinformation Bob quoted, as did others, @muirgray on clean clear knowledge. The Health on the Net Code is now 20 years old . There’s also the NHS Information Standard. The NHS is relaunching its apps library. The Care Quality Commission is starting to inspect digital services, for example fee-based online consultations with GPs – the day I write this, the Health Service Journal reports that the CQC has found some digital services to be unsafe – a service that charges £20 for a ten minute video consultation was not prescribing safely. We’ve been talking for twenty years, argued Bob- [perhaps longer, I remember Sally Knight of the Lister Hospital in Stevenage arguing for professional input into public health information in the early nineties -TR] . There are problems of scale - too many resources, pace - we can’t keep up with them, a low awareness of quality marks, and information standards aren’t considered to add any value for providers, certifying processes rather than the information itself. But there are developments: the Patient Information Forum’s Perfect Patient Information Journey project, the NHS’s Behind the Headlines service and the Tinder Foundation's report (who have now changed that slightly embarrassing name to the Good Things Programme) Health & digital: Reducing inequalities, improving society An evaluation of the Widening Digital Participation programme
With Health Information Week coming up, what can librarians do
- Spread awareness of quality marks for consumer health information
- Spread critical appraisal skills
- Campaign and network