Are you in need of more information about a recent diagnosis? Or perhaps a translation of your diagnosis? A Region librarian can help!

The Saskatoon Health Region Medical Library, located in Saskatoon City Hospital, has been building a patient health information collection with funding from Saskatoon City Hospital Foundation, and support and collaboration from volunteers and staff at departments at SCH, including the Eye Care Centre and Rehabilitation Centre.The patient health information collection includes books in English and other languages, for children and for adults. It also includes a patient-specific computer which will allow them access to library-curated health guides, as well as other quality health information resources.

Ashley Booth holds a book called "Jack Wears Contact Lenses and Glasses.... Just Like You!!"

Librarian Ashley Booth shows off one of the books the Saskatoon Health Region Medical Library has on hand for children about medical conditions.

“Previously, our resource collection was sparse and outdated, and therefore not heavily used,” said Ashley Booth, librarian at the Medical Library. “When we updated it, we decided to add a patient component to it.”

Using the dedicated computer, patients will be able to use the library’s subscriptions to many great resources they would not be able to access otherwise.  Many of the online and printed resources are actually written for patients, and in multiple languages, so English won’t be a barrier to them understanding their medical conditions.

“We’ve located some wonderful resources that can be very hard to find,” Booth noted. “We also have access to pieces from databases that patients can’t get to – reputable journals of medicine that have great information that’s not accessible to the general public. We can pull that information for patients, and teach them how to distinguish between reputable and non-reputable sites.”

The library uses the acronym CRAP when testing websites – they advise those looking for information to examine the site’s currency, reliability, authority and purpose or point of view.  Knowing if the information is current enough, whether it’s content is opinion or research-based, the credentials of those who developed it, and the purpose of the site is all important information that can tell you whether you can rely on the information presented on it.

“Often, trying to find reliable health information on the Internet is like trying to take a drink from a fire hose – you get too much that you don’t need, and have trouble dealing with anything relevant,” Booth said. “We’re very excited that we can help patients, one-on-one, gather the right information.”

Books for patients at the library.

The Saskatoon Health region Medical Library at Saskatoon City Hospital has been building a patient information collection.

The library is also taking on a couple of pilot projects to help more patients find information that they need.

The first pilot is an “information prescription.”  This is a collaborative pilot between the team at the library, health practitioners and volunteers, to help patients find detailed and reliable health information when directed by their health care team. When a health care provider feels a patient needs more background information on their health issue, or information in their first language, they will actually write out a special prescription for information that the patient can get filled at the medical library.

“It’s basically a supplementary tool, so health care providers can send patients to us for basic research help and assistance in finding trusted patient information online,” said Booth. “Or we can lend them written materials from our library.”

This program is meant to ensure that every patient has as much information as they feel they need about their condition, no matter what their first language is, or if they own a computer.

“Our aim is to help empower patients and their families in their search for understandable, regulated, and evidence-based health information,” said Booth. “The end goal is to support recovery beyond the doors of the hospital by providing patients and families with the information and research tools to understand, manage, and make decisions about their health, condition, or treatment.”

Alternative language health reading materials.

Some of the patient information at the library comes in alternate languages, for those who don’t speak English as a first language.

The second pilot the library is working on is staffing Royal University Hospital’s patient and family resource centre with a librarian on a regular basis.

“Right now, the resource centre is run primarily by volunteers, and contains mostly leisure reading materials. We’d like to have a librarian there a couple of days a week as a resource for patients, and we’ve applied for a grant to stock more patient education resources, so that those at RUH have easy access to alternate language books, health information books for children, and that sort of thing,” Booth noted.

Medical librarians can perform their regular duties at RUH, while serving patients there.

“We can help direct them to information, answer questions, and maintain the collection there,” Booth said. “And being there will provide us with an opportunity for teachable moments.”