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E-book Revolution Changes, Challenges Healthcare

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, May 22, 2012

Cost is a big concern for medical libraries. Cleveland Clinic's library budget is basically held flat, with increases for inflation and for "explainable increases" in subscription rates, Kraft says. Moving from a book to an e-book can be one of those explainable increases.

When the publisher Lipincott approached me to tout its new e-book version of The Nursing Drug Handbook, I got a chance to speak to the publisher's chief nurse, Judith McCann MSN RN. I suggested to her that the current shortage of nurses and doctors suggests it's time for a revolution in the education of nurses and doctors in training. Could e-books be it?

"The amount of information [nurses and doctors] have to absorb today is phenomenal," McCann says. "The books themselves have probably quadrupled in size in the last 25 years."

So if nothing else, toting around the e-book version on a tablet is a lot less effort physically. Add to that the fact that the drug interactions in the new Lipincott book get updated weekly, based on new data from the FDA, and then add in the easy search and other e-book features, and it's hard to make a case for staying with paper.

Demand for even the paper drug references is such that nurses and doctors who don't get copies issued by their institutions often end up beyond them and paying for them out of pocket. That could be a considerable extra cost, so hospitals should defray or underwrite this cost as a component of keeping employee satisfaction high.

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