UK Government policy over the last 15 years has increasingly focused on the need for improved quality, improved accountability and improved choice and involvement for patients (e.g. NHS Executive, 1996, 1999a, 1999b; Secretary of State for Health, 1997, 2002; Department of Health, 2010a). Alongside this, there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of the role of information in the NHS (e.g. NHS Executive, 1998; Department of Health, 2001, 2010b) and the spread of evidence-based practice across health care and policy-making as a whole (Cabinet Office, 1999). This increased recognition of the role of information and evidence has resulted in implications and opportunities for health library and information professionals. This chapter explores these concepts, their corresponding information requirements and implications for health librarians in more detail. Firstly Gareth Lawrence describes information management requirements for clinical governance and how this is used to improve clinical performance. Alison Yeoman explores consumer health information using a study of women's information practices to describe the information needs and choices that consumers face when considering information about their health. Alison Brettle describes the concept of evidence-based practice and its implications for health library and information professionals and Prudence Dalrymple examines how the concept of ‘evidence’ is perceived by clinicians in practice.
WHAT DOES INFORMATION MANAGEMENT FOR CLINICAL GOVERNANCE INVOLVE?
What is clinical governance?
Clinical governance is ‘a framework through which NHS organizations are accountable for continuously improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care will flourish’ (Department of Health, 1999a). It requires high quality information and knowledge both for clinical decision making and performance management, alongside a supportive infrastructure. In discussing information requirements of clinical governance, Booth (2004) suggests that clinical governance requires ‘evidence based practice which puts library-derived research literature at the centre, patient information which requires a hybrid informatics response and risk management and clinical computing which exists almost entirely outside libraries’.