Better to Best: Thoughts on Global Health Care Systems

Information needed to treat put beyond physicians’ reach

Posted in Open Access by reshmagar on April 30, 2012

Check out the terrific article below from Logan Weygandt, a student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on the importance of having access to scholarly research for both physicians and patients. YAY LOGAN!

Information needed to treat put beyond physicians’ reach
Free online access to medical journal articles must be the norm

By P. Logan Weygandt
8:00 a.m. EDT, April 29, 2012

In a small, rural, rust-belt town there sits a nondescript office building not far from the town square. The building is an unassuming amalgam of storefronts, offices and vacancies. Near one of the offices, there hangs a shingle: “Psychiatrist’s Office.” Patients arrive faithfully, dutifully awaiting the chance to receive comprehensive, compassionate care and the most appropriate medicine for their maladies.

My mother runs this clinic, striving to provide the best and most cost-effective medicine possible. She must avoid extraneous expenses so that her patients are able to access quality care despite the depressed economy. Without the resources to purchase all the necessary but expensive journal subscriptions, many of which cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per year, she is unable to access the most recent medical discoveries that would benefit her patients. At times, she has had to call upon me — a medical student at Johns Hopkins not yet in clinical practice — to seek out current studies and provide synopses of the most recent science. She should not have to resort to such convoluted means to obtain information that is so vital for her patients’ well-being.

In our outdated system of disseminating research papers, the information vital to human medicine sits locked behind paywalls. If you’ve ever tried to open the full text of a journal article, you’ve likely faced a prompt demanding $15-$32 per article reader fee. Two of the largest scholarly publishers, Elsevier and the American Publishing Association, have invested untold sums to push for industry-friendly legislation that would keep this lifesaving information from the hands of the physicians charged with caring for our country’s injured and ill.

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