I've been hearing the rumours - and thinking it can't be right. Now that the announcement is out - it is an insult to health librarians everywhere. Without a single librarian - one of our own - on the Google Health Advisory Group, our profession is effectively silenced on one of the more important projects for our work since PubMed.
Shame on you Google. The Medical Library Association (MLA) should be especially annoyed at this oversight by the world's most influential search engine, and a letter should be written to Page and Brin forthwith. MLA, please tell us this is a clerical error? Google, for its part, should really take a lead from Microsoft and try to understand the symbolism of its decisions before it excludes health librarians.
Readers, do you think Adam Bosworth knows who we are? Do you think he knows about the thousands of librarians and information specialists in hospitals, clinics and consumer health libraries across the globe who work hard to teach and use their tools to deliver health information to patients every day of the year?
The announcement suggests not:
"[Google Health has] formed an advisory council, made up of healthcare experts from provider organizations, consumer and disease-based groups, physician organizations, research institutions, policy foundations, and other fields. The mission of the Google Health Advisory Council is broadly to help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development."
Imagine what the American Medical Association (AMA) or the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) (in short, the doctors) would have said had they not been asked to participate? The newly-formed Google Health Advisory Group mostly consists of MDs, with some representation from health provider and consumer groups - but no hospital librarians, no clinical librarians, no consumer health librarians or informationists. In fact, no nurses, no therapists nor technologists. It's a list that surprises by its one-dimensionality, and its errors of omission.
Note to Google: Who do you think provides patient education and materials to consumers? It's nurses. It's health librarians. In the information age, librarians are equal partners in the delivery of health care, in case you haven't noticed. Who do you believe is responsible for delivering information to patients outside of the clinical team? Further, who knows these tools better than health librarians?
Your stock among health librarians has plummeted today. Tut tut, Google Health.
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