February 21, 1997

Healthy information on tap

Healthy information on tap

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Programmer John Boswell has worked to make VUMC's new consumer health pages user friendly.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has created a World Wide Web site dedicated to consumer health information.

Located on VUMC's official Web site, the new pages are designed to help people access valuable health information while at the same time gaining a better understanding of the medical center's numerous and varied programs and services.

Contained within these pages are listings of VUMC physicians, research papers written by faculty, recent media stories pertaining to consumer health and departmental descriptions.

"The goal of the pages is to make information that our customers need as accessible as possible," said John Boswell, health systems analyst and programmer at VUMC's Active Digital Library.

By providing a wide range of information at the new Web site, VUMC consumers can now stop at one place on the Internet to find helpful information about health care issues and services available.

People looking for a doctor can use the consumer health pages to access information about VUMC physicians.

If a patient has been referred to VUMC and wants to look up the doctor that they are coming to see, there is a section that will let them search for the physician by name. Once they have found their physician they can see a picture and get information on their clinical and research interests.

"This has been the most popular feature so far," said Boswell. "The section is a lot like the physician referral directory and contains pictures of most of our physicians."

Another feature of the Web site is that it allows people to access information regarding individual departments in the medical center.

Another feature of the consumer health Web page is an index of current topics of interest at the medical center. The site offers VUMC faculty and staff a new mechanism for disseminating health information articles they have written for other Vanderbilt-related publications that would otherwise only be available in print.

Currently, there are several articles by VUMC faculty on the page. Susan McDonald, director of Communications in Medical Development, has written an article about Alzheimer's disease and the current techniques being used to combat it, and Dr. Raymond DuBois, associate professor of Medicine and Cell Biology, has written an article regarding the fight against cancer.

"Our goal is to have many more articles for people to choose from when they visit our Web site," said Boswell. "We hope to be the one place in the area people go for current information about health care."

Previously, people had to search individual Web sites of various departments to find general health information. The new consumer Web page centralizes that information and allows people to access just one place to find a wealth of information.

Any VUMC faculty or staff member with articles in Vanderbilt-related publications interested in making them available electronically via the consumer health Web site can contact Boswell at the Eskind Biomedical Library at 936-2617.

The consumer health pages can be reached through the VUMC main page by clicking on the line that reads "Vanderbilt Health Services" or it can be accessed through its Internet address: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/health/.