Use technology to access information

Your hospital library's computer can provide access to patient-oriented information in databases, CD-ROM programs, and programs using interactive videodisks. Following is a list of resources to get you started:

* CompuServe, Columbus, OH.

CompuServe is a consumer on-line service with more than 1,700 databases, services, and forums. Special CompuServe communication software is not necessary to navigate the system, but a software package that makes searches easier is available. It is called CompuServe Information Manager and is included in a membership kit available free of charge. Access to basic services costs $9.95 per month, which includes five free hours. Each additional hour costs $2.95. Some databases have additional surcharges and fees for article retrievals. Address: CompuServe, 5000 Arlington Centre Blvd., P.O. Box 20212, Columbus, OH 43220. Telephone: (800) 848-8199.

* Information Access Company, Foster City, CA.

This company has created a CD-ROM database called Health Reference Center and Health Reference Center Gold that is available by subscription. The database provides access to medical information from periodicals, pamphlets, and reference books. Disks are updated monthly. Prices vary depending on the size of the facility. Address: 362 Lakeside Drive, Foster City, CA 94404. Telephone: (800) 227-8431 or (415) 378-5000.

* National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.

Medical journal articles can be accessed through the MEDLINE database at the National Library of Medicine with the aid of a software package called Grateful-Med.

The software costs $29.95. Software purchasers must call for a user code number, so search charges can be billed to the proper account. The software package can be purchased with a credit card by telephoning: (800) 423-9255. To order IBM-compatible software, use order code number PB92-105444. To order Macintosh software, use order code number PB93-502433.

For an information packet contact: Robert Mehnert, National Technical Information Service, National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894. Telephone: (301) 496-6308. Fax: (301) 496-4450.

* National Organization for Rare Disorders, New Fairfield, CT.

Information on rare disorders can be obtained by telephone or on-line via CompuServe. The organization will send two reports free of charge. Thereafter the reports cost $4 each.

To obtain a literature order form, write: National Organization for Rare Disorders, 100 Route 37, P.O. Box 8923, New Fairfield, CT 06812-8923. Telephone: (800) 999-6673.

* The Interactive Healthcare Newsletter is a bimonthly publication that covers the use of videodisk, CD-ROM, computer-assisted instruction, the Internet, and multimedia technology in the health sciences. Subscriptions are $70 per year. Address: Stewart Publishing, 6471 Merritt Court, Alexandria, VA 22312. Telephone: (703) 354-8155. *