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Dr Patricia Flatley Brennan Outlines Advances at the National Library of Medicine

Behind the scenes there are a number of advances that Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, director of the National Library of Medicine, would like to see take place to make it easier to get literature into people's hands.


Behind the scenes there are a number of advances that Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, director of the National Library of Medicine, would like to see take place to make it easier to get literature into people's hands.

Transcript

What advances at the National Library of Medicine would you like to see during your tenure? What initiatives are you excited to implement?

Advances that I would like to see are really on the back end. It's not at all obvious to people how complicated it is to get the literature into the hands of someone. We started off with data files and we ahve large computers that help convert the information in those records to important indexing tags so people can find them, and then we make the presentation of the information in a way that is machine and human readable.

But behind the scenes there's hundreds of people and lots of specialized skill to make sure that we tag an article with the proper term so it can be found by someone else, so we can organize the literate in a proper way. So one of the advances that I would like to see happen is enough technological support so that we can know when human indexing is absolutely essential to make an article findable, but when machine learning can help us actually do that in a faster way so we can get the literature into the hands of people more quickly.

Now as we go into the future, and this relates to the innovation you asked, we're changing the information substrate of healthcare. So for almost 2 centures the National Library of Medicine has used the literature, formal text presentations, as our substrate for healthcare. So we provide information on discoveries. We provide information on best practices. But we're moving into a data-driven era where these thousands of streams of data from the human genome to the air you're breathing to the sounds around you, become a part of the story of you and your health. And as we move to a data-driven health environment, we have to modify both the way we index and organize information, make it discoverable, make it useful for individuals.

So we at the National Library of Medicine will be doing for data what we've been doing for the literature for centuries, which is store it safely, make it accessible, make it useful, and put a value-add on it.

 
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