Want to make better decisions about your health? Then let MedlinePlus.gov empower you.
That’s the message a series of radio public service announcements – produced by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (HSC) – aims to get out.
The website – run by the National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine – features basic information on various health topics, including interactive tutorials, videos on surgeries and tips on prescription drugs and supplements.
“It makes medical care understandable to ordinary people,” said Dr. Gale Hannigan, a research professor at the UNM Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center, which spearheaded the campaign titled “I Heard It on the Radio.”
MedlinePlus.gov is part of the HSC's Vision 2020 initiative - an institution-wide effort to improve health and health equity in New Mexico.
“We are helping people find good information,” Hannigan said.
The National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine and the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library provided $5,000 to fund the PSAs. The UNM Health Sciences Library is partnering with the New Mexico Broadcasters Association to distribute the spots.
The radio messages are delivered by UNM’s Dr. Dale Alverson, Dr. Anthony Fleg, Dr. Art Kaufman, health educator Shannon Fleg and Albuquerque poet laureate Hakim Bellamy.
In one PSA, Alverson, the medical director for the HSC’s Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research, describes how the website empowered a relative recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat.
“We found reliable information, put in easily understandable terms, which helped her understand the problem and the importance of taking a medication to prevent a stroke, a known risk with this condition,” Alverson says in the spot.
In another spot, the poet Bellamy speaks from his experience as the parent of a five-year-old. “Parents don’t have to know the answers to all the questions about their child’s fever, rashes or tummy aches,” he says. “They just have to know how to find them.”
Hannigan hopes the PSAs will also catch the ear of doctors and other providers, who may recommend the website to their patients as a way of increasing awareness about their own health.
“Sometimes patients become experts on their own diseases,” Hannigan said.
The radio PSAs are available to broadcasters on the New Mexico Broadcasters Association website.