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GRATEFUL MED user and a network library, allows electronic ordering of documents.
Demonstration projects in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and Meharry Medical College in Tennessee to identify impediments to use and test innovative strategies for improving access among health professionals in geographically isolated areas, including the use of a circuit librarian (Rio Grande Valley) and training residents in GRATEFUL MED use, who will go on to train their preceptors (Meharry). A total of 18 outreach projects have a minority focus.
Continuing efforts to publicize the programs and services of the Library. Publicity activities are targeted both to health professionals and to general audiences, and include exhibits at meetings as well as training kits, press releases, videos, and a campaign to inform dental professionals about the benefits of GRATEFUL MED.
These institutions that are collaborating with us now represent the most needy, and the projects are now being undertaken.
HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING PROGRAM
Question. What is NLM doing to ensure the participation of biomedicine in Federal high performance computing and networking initiatives?
Answer. NLM has taken a leadership role for medicine in the new Presidential High Performance Computing and Communications Program. A part of this multi-agency initiative is to develop the National Research and Education Network, a sort of computer superhighway. High performance computers and high-speed computer networks are key technologies for the future of biomedical science and its applications. Within the Department of Health and Human Services, the focal point of the HPCC program is the NLM. NLM is the only biomedical element in the initiative; its role is to provide applications for this advanced technology and to help the biomedical research and medical practice communities prepare for the major changes that this initiative will bring to their medical practices, to the expectations patients will have for up to date modern treatment, and for the actual improvements in care that the new network will make possible.
Question. What will be the potential impact on health care for the Nation?
Answer. Activities already underway at NLM which would benefit greatly from association with this initiative include molecular biology computing, creation and transmission of electronic images, the linking of academic health centers via computer networks, the creation of "intelligent gateways" to retrieve information from multiple life sciences databases, and expanded training in biomedical computer science.
Question. The President's Budget contains three million for this initiative, but how much did the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology actually recommend?
Answer. The FCCSET budget recommends a $16.5 million increase for these programs in FY 92 and $19.5 million in FY 93.
CLINICAL ALERT SYSTEM
Question. The Congress is pleased to see that the NIH has instituted a clinical alert system whereby the medical community is notified of major results of clinical trials prior to formal publication. What is NLM's role here?
Answer. Once an NIH Institute director and the NIH Director's Office have determined that expedited release of findings from a clinical trial could affect morbidity or mortality, NIH employs a variety of mechanisms to announce the findings including press conferences, press releases, and use of the National Library of Medicine's online services and the Regional Medical Library Network. The responsible Institute provides NLM with a several page statement of the important findings as well as a short summary of the key points. NLM immediately puts the summary "clinical alert" message on its online system, giving a telephone number that users may call to request a copy of the complete statement. The Library also faxes or electronically disseminates the complete text of the "clinical alert" to 138 major medical libraries and mails the complete text to more than 3,000 Regional Medical Library Network members, including libraries in hospitals nationwide. These libraries in turn disseminate the "clinical alert" to other clinical care facilities, research centers, and professional groups in their geographic areas.
These NLM actions in disseminating clinical alert information of course,
in addition to the other dissemination means selected by the relevant institute; for example press conferences, mailing of letters to professional societies when appropriate, etc.
Thus far, NLM has received uniformly encouraging reports from the field. In many cases the medical librarians have reported that they were able to contact the appropriate clinicians in their medical centers, and often reported that the clinical alert information was useful to the clinician and had not reached him or her by other means.
PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT
Question. In our report last year we indicated our serious concern with the proposed Paperwork Reduction Act provisions that could have jeopardized NLM's cost recovery mechanisms and the quality of the databases. Has that matter been adequately resolved?
Answer. The matter is not resolved, and it continues to be a major concern.
If not, what is needed to protect NLM's reasonable
Answer. Before Congress adjourned, the last version of the Paperwork Reduction Act proposal did contain a specific exclusion for the NLM. The proposal did not pass, however, we understand a new bill will be introduced in this Congress,
To protect NLM's reasonable prices and ensure the quality of its databases, the NLM needs either an exclusion in the Paperwork Reduction Act itself, or specific authority in the basic NLM Act to enter into license agreements that provide for quality control and full recovery of access costs.
AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE POLICY AND RESEARCH
Question. What is the status of NLM collaboration with the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) to provide information services in the field of health services research? How are these activities being funded?
Answer. In response to the December 1989 legislation that created the AHCPR, AHCPR and NLM have entered into an interagency agreement to improve information services in the field of health services research. As a result of this agreement, the Library has:
established a new Office of Health Services Research
begun to enhance coverage of health services research in the NLM collection, its Medical Subject Headings, and its online databases of indexed citations;
initiated a research and development project to make the full-text of approved guidelines available to users of NLM's online services;
begun expanding the Unified Medical Language System
developed a special workshop and training materials
The Institute of Medicine is assisting NLM and AHCPR by conducting a study of information needs related to health services research, including technology assessment, and by recommending new or expanded services that NLM should provide to meet these needs.
Under the terms of its legislation, AHCPR is authorized to support NLM's health services research information program through FY 1992. AHCPR is providing support to NLM at the level of about $1,000,000 per year.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTTED BY SENATOR DALE BUMPERS
NATIONAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION NETWORK
Question. Three million dollars of your 1992 budget have been earmarked for advancements in the National Research and Education Network (NREN) efforts of NLM, one-quarter of which is to be spent on conn
nnecting medical institutions with the NREN network
and the rest of which is to be "apportioned among other performance computing projects."
Would you please specify what some of these "related" projects are?
Answer. There is a growing impetus for strengthening the capabilities of the biomedical community in high performance computing and networking. Grand challenges in biomedicine, such as the analysis of the human genome, prediction of biological structure and function from genetic code, and rational drug design, will require new and faster computers, advanced software, a national research and education computer network, and expanded training of scientists in the use of computer-based tools. The overall FCCSET plan recommends additional resources for NLM to address these Grand Challenges in biomedicine as part of this multi-agency coordinated initiative. Three million dollars has been made available to NLM for this High Performance Computing initiative in FY 1992. The National Research and Education Network (NREN) is one component of the overall FCCSET plan. NLM's related HPCC plans include applications in molecular biology computing, creation and transmission of digital electronic images, the linking of academic health centers via computer networks, the creation of advanced methods to retrieve information from life sciences databases, and training in biomedical computer sciences.
Question. Do any of these planned projects involve the medical or health science libraries or librarians in the NREN network?
Answer. A major portion of NLM's HPCC effort will be in assisting and encouraging biomedical and health care institutes to attach to and use new high speed networks and additional national information resources. In the case of major medical centers, the medical librarians are already central to the institutions planning for information systems. The IAIMS grant sites are examples of this. We also plan for experimental sites in rural areas and areas serving minority or otherwise underserved populations. In such cases, NLM will continue to work through the Regional Library Network realizing that most hospitals do not have medical librarians on staff.
Question. NLM's budget proposal expresses the clear intention to use the NREN network to improve health care practitioners' direct access to GRATEFUL MED. While this effort is laudable, it appears to have certain limitations, as practitioners are sometimes intimidated by the technology and may not use it to its fullest capacity. In order to maximize the NREN program's capabilities, what steps are you taking to involve health science libraries and librarians in your NREN efforts?
Answer. The DeBakey Outreach Panel calls for the Regional Medical Libraries to serve as NLM's "field force" for introducing health care practitioners to the products and services available through the NLM.
Question. What will be the impact of this expanded outreach effort on health sciences libraries and librarians?
Answer. The NREN will provide faster, better access to national information sources for the libraries in the RML network.
Question. will there be increased outreach funds available for the institutions which become part of the NREN program?
Answer. NLM's efforts to improve health care practitioners' access to biomedical information, including access to GRATEFUL MED, are being carried out through the Regional Medical Library network, a national network of over 3,000 health science libraries.
Question. will any of the NREN funds be used for training or retraining of health science librarians?
Answer. Under the HPCC initiative, the Library's recently released RFA announcement for grant support to informatics training centers at a variety of academic health science institutions specifically provides for the inclusion of medical librarians who may avail themselves of these training opportunities.
Question. In 1989 NLM widely publicized the recommendations of its outreach planning panel. If those recommendations had been enacted and fully funded, the 1991 outreach funding level would have been around $35 million. What is the current outreach funding level?
Answer. NLM's FY 1992 budget request includes approximately $6.2 million for outreach activities. These funds will be utilized to support the Regional Medical Libraries; hospital access, training and demonstration grants; and the development of information projects and services.
Question. Considering the DeBakey panel recommendations and the fact that outreach has been a high priority for NLM in the past, why does the budget request for outreach reflect funding for activities at current services level? Does this reflect a shift in priorities for NLM away from outreach?
Answer. Outreach continues to be NLM's highest priority. NLM continues to invest both its fiscal and intellectual resources not only to acquiring scientific information but in devising new and more efficient and effective methods for making it readily available to the health and science community. NLM is in complete accordance with the stated Congressional position that the benefits of our nation's investment in biomedical research can be maximized only if there are effective channels for disseminating research rezults.
Budgetary constraints limited NLM's ability to substantially increase resources earmarked for outreach activities. The FY 1992 budget request of $6,183,000 for outreach does, however, include a modest increase of $429,000 over current services for outreach.
Question. What specific outreach activities did you initiate last year to respond to the increase in funding that the Congress provided which was above the President's 1991 budget request?