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 and responds to requests for information based on diagnosis (problem) codes, medication codes, and laboratory test codes. When an EHR, patient portal or other system submits a code-based request, MedlinePlus Connect returns a response that includes links to patient education information relevant to the code. MedlinePlus Connect is available as a Web application or a Web service. It is available in English and Spanish.
For problem code requests, MedlinePlus Connect supports:
- ICD-9-CM (International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition, Clinical Modification)
- ICD-10-CM (International Classification of Diseases, 10th 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.
For some problem code requests in English, M+ Connect also returns information pages about genetic conditions. MedlinePlus has more than 1,300 summaries that educate patients about the features, genetic causes, and inheritance of genetic conditions. (Prior to 2020 this content was labelled “Genetics Home Reference”; the content is now a part of MedlinePlus.)
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:
MedlinePlus Connect also returns information in response to laboratory test codes. This information is from the MedlinePlus medical tests collection.
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, work with a technical representative or staff member to set up 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 education from MedlinePlus.
- MedlinePlus Connect supports the HL7 Context-Aware Knowledge Retrieval (Infobutton) standard.
- The level of effort for implementation 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, electronic health records systems, and other systems using MedlinePlus Connect.
- MedlinePlus Connect is free and does not require registration.
- MedlinePlus Connect may help you achieve one of the criteria for Meaningful Use of Health Information Technology.
- Implementing MedlinePlus Connect will make a global change; you don't need to create individual links.
- 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.
- MedlinePlus Connect isn't a replacement for MedlinePlus. It is a value-added service to bring MedlinePlus content to electronic health record systems.
- MedlinePlus Connect provides links to copyrighted drug information from American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, ASHP, Inc. Users of MedlinePlus Connect are prohibited from ingesting and/or branding this copyrighted content in their EHR or other health IT system. If you want to incorporate this content into your EHR or brand it, you must license the content directly from the information vendor. See our page on linking to MedlinePlus for more details.
Resources and News
- MedlinePlus Connect handout - PDF
- Radio interview, NIH Connects Patients, Providers with Health Care Info