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Open Access Highly Accessed Software

A web-based library consult service for evidence-based medicine: Technical development

Alan Schwartz12*, Gregory Millam1 and the UIC LCS Investigators

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2006, 6:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-6-16

Published: 16 March 2006



Incorporating evidence based medicine (EBM) into clinical practice requires clinicians to learn to efficiently gain access to clinical evidence and effectively appraise its validity. Even using current electronic systems, selecting literature-based data to solve a single patient-related problem can require more time than practicing physicians or residents can spare. Clinical librarians, as informationists, are uniquely suited to assist physicians in this endeavor.


To improve support for evidence-based practice, we have developed a web-based EBM library consult service application (LCS). Librarians use the LCS system to provide full text evidence-based literature with critical appraisal in response to a clinical question asked by a remote physician. LCS uses an entirely Free/Open Source Software platform and will be released under a Free Software license. In the first year of the LCS project, the software was successfully developed and a reference implementation put into active use. Two years of evaluation of the clinical, educational, and attitudinal impact on physician-users and librarian staff are underway, and expected to lead to refinement and wide dissemination of the system.


A web-based EBM library consult model may provide a useful way for informationists to assist clinicians, and is feasible to implement.