Susan Mayer, MLIS
Patient Education Specialist
Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Resource Center
January 26, 2011; Reviewed August 2013
The Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education resource center consists of a reception desk and waiting area, displays of pamphlets and videos on general health and wellness topics, computers for public use, a consumer health book collection and a medical reference book collection cataloged in Library of Congress. The reference area and reception area are staffed Monday through Friday with trained library staff who can assist visitors in registering for classes, finding basic health information, finding resources to answer medical related questions or use the reference collection. The center also features a display of historical wax medical models.
The pamphlet displays hold approximately 250 pamphlets. We use them for items of general interest, seasonally appropriate topics and to feature new materials. To contain cost, most of the items displayed are those produced in house rather than those purchased from outside vendors. Because our database of approved patient education materials contains almost 8,000 items, we developed a resource file system for visitors to browse for items of possible interest on specific topics.
The resource files are stored alphabetically by the clinical area names used at Mayo. Within each area, items reflect the needs and requests of our visitors as observed over time. Therefore, instead of evenly representing the body of knowledge available, or even the patient education materials collection, this collection is shaped by its use over time. This is possible because all of the materials created in-house are printable and therefore easily accessible here and at point of care. Many of our videos are available as DVD’s and on our in-house media channel as well.
Within each clinical area, there are folders devoted to specific diagnoses, to prevention and control, to coping, and to procedures and tests commonly performed. For example, within the neruology area, we have folders for:
The folders contain samples of all the pamphlets in our database on these topics. They also contain articles published in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter and the Mayo Clinic Women’s Healthsource. Each item in the folders is stored in drawers in our center. We use stickers on the items noting the drawer location, and reorder cards in the drawers that prevent us from running out of stock. There is a full time library employee to manage the ordering and stocking, assisted by volunteers.
These resource folders are well received by our visitors. We present them with an invitation to browse the contents and ask for copies of the items of interest. We share that the items are free and have been created for our patients. The advantages to this method are numerous. Visitors can spend time looking over the material in the file and may discover information they had not realized would be available, or to answer questions they had not yet thought of, or that they had not wanted to ask. Because the visitor can choose from the variety of materials offered, staff is relieved of the tricky task of determining what the visitor already knows about a topic, their health literacy, and their preferred method of learning. If they do not see something that is useful, we can look in a different folder, use the book collection or search online using our approved patient education resources.
Though this system is simple and low tech, I have not been able to improve on it. We have records in our database for each folder, making them searchable by topics and by title. We use a scanning system to record usage of the folders. I formally review them to ensure they contain materials reflecting the needs of our visitors and weed outdated or unnecessary items out regularly. Library staff interact with visitors to introduce the folders and then again to gather the materials or try another source to answer a question. This allows time for visitors to become comfortable with the staff, to think about their diagnosis and formulate their questions more fully. It leads to a high level of satisfaction with our services and sense of having been understood and heard.