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MedlinePlus Connect

Doctor and patient talking

Linking Patient Portals and EHRs to Consumer Health Information

MedlinePlus Connect is a free service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This service allows health organizations and health IT providers to link patient portals and electronic health record (EHR) systems to MedlinePlus, an authoritative up-to-date health information resource for patients, families, and health care providers.

How it Works

MedlinePlus Connect accepts requests for information on diagnoses (problem codes), medications, and lab tests, and returns related MedlinePlus information. It is available as a Web application or a Web service.

Upon receiving a problem code request, MedlinePlus Connect returns relevant MedlinePlus health topics and other related information. MedlinePlus has hundreds of health topic pages that bring together information from NIH, other U.S. government agencies, and reputable health information providers. Health topic pages cover a wide range of conditions and wellness issues, and include key resources to inform patients about their health: overviews, information on symptoms and treatments, recent health news, clinical trials, and much more. You can browse the list of all health topics.

For problem code requests, MedlinePlus Connect supports:

  • ICD-9-CM (International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition, Clinical Modification)
  • SNOMED CT® (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine, Clinical Terms). Note: MedlinePlus Connect coverage of SNOMED CT focuses on CORE Problem List Subset codes (Clinical Observations Recording and Encoding) and their descendants.

MedlinePlus Connect will support ICD-10-CM when it becomes the U.S. standard.

MedlinePlus Connect can also link your EHR system to drug information written especially for patients. When an EHR system sends MedlinePlus Connect a request that includes a medication code, the service will return link(s) to the most appropriate drug information. MedlinePlus drug information is the AHFS­ Consumer Medication Information and is licensed for use on MedlinePlus from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, ASHP, Inc.

For medication requests, MedlinePlus Connect supports:

  • RXCUI (RxNorm Concept Unique Identifier)
  • NDC (National Drug Code)

MedlinePlus Connect also returns information in response to laboratory test codes. This information is from the A.D.A.M. encyclopedia, which MedlinePlus licenses.

For lab test requests, MedlinePlus Connect supports:

  • LOINC® (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes)

MedlinePlus Connect supports requests for information in English or Spanish. MedlinePlus Connect is intended for use within the United States health care system and cannot support coding systems not used in the United States.

Implementing MedlinePlus Connect

To use MedlinePlus Connect, you need to work with the technical representative or staff member who can use the MedlinePlus Connect Web application or Web service as described in the technical documentation. They will use the coding information already in your system (e.g., ICD-9-CM, NDC, etc.) to automatically send requests to MedlinePlus Connect in a standard format and use the reply to provide relevant patient information from MedlinePlus.

  • MedlinePlus Connect supports the HL7 Context-Aware Knowledge Retrieval (Infobutton) standard.
  • The level of effort varies depending on the flexibility and customizability of your system.
  • Implementing MedlinePlus Connect is a one-time effort. Once you make this change in your system, MedlinePlus Connect will update and maintain the links between the codes and the consumer health information.
  • See examples of health care organizations and electronic health records systems using MedlinePlus Connect.

 Quick Facts

  • MedlinePlus Connect is free and doesn't require registration.
  • MedlinePlus Connect may help you achieve one of the criteria for Meaningful Use of Health Information Technology.
  • You don't have to use MedlinePlus Connect exclusively to link to patient education information. Many EHR systems can be configured to link to more than one source of consumer health information.
  • Implementing MedlinePlus Connect will make a global change; you don't need to create individual links.
  • MedlinePlus Connect isn't a replacement for MedlinePlus. It is a value-added service to bring MedlinePlus content to electronic health record systems.

 Resources and News

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