UW News

February 5, 2009

UW Health Sciences Libraries target improving patient care

A new service aimed at providing health professional with access to evidence-based information is being unveiled throughout Washington State. Health Evidence Resource for Washington (HEAL-WA) is an evidence-based health sciences information portal developed by the UW Health Sciences Libraries. The HEAL-WA  Web site (http://heal-wa.org) will provide electronic access to information for many practitioners who do not currently have access to resources through the services of a health sciences library. The site will be funded by an add-on to the license fees of these practitioners.

HEAL-WA is available to registered nurses, physicians, physician assistants, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians’ assistants, massage therapists, naturopaths, podiatrists, chiropractors, psychologists, optometrists, mental health counselors, clinical social workers, and acupuncturists licensed by Washington state. The HEAL-WA Web site provides practice-specific information to licensed professionals included in the program.

HEAL-WA will give these practitioners access to timely, evidence-based resources to help them answer patient care questions. Evidence-based information is designed to make sure that conclusions are drawn from the best-available evidence. The site will include a variety of resources such as online databases, electronic journals and full text articles and electronic textbooks.

The resources have been selected to provide healthcare professionals with the latest information related to diagnosis and therapy, guidelines and evidence, drugs, labs, diagnostic tests, prevention, screening and immunizations, and patient care management. Information for practitioners to share with their patients is available.

“The information needs of health care professionals are enormous and ever-changing and evidence-based medicine is becoming the standard. HEAL-WA uses a pioneering approach to improving access to this information,” said State Representative Eileen Cody, chair of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. “For a nominal fee of $25.00, practitioners have access to the HEAL-WA portal and its collection of current journals, evidence-based information that impacts patients at the point-of-care and the ability to provide patients with materials that improve their knowledge of a particular condition. Having the site as a destination during the clinical work day brings this type of essential content right where it is needed– to practitioners and their patients.”

Improving health professionals’ access to information state-wide was one of the guiding visions of Governor Gregoire’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Costs and Access. Legislation (Senate Bill 5930), signed into law in May 2007, encourages practitioners to rely on evidence-based information to deliver health care. HEAL-WA now makes access to this information readily available.