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Infobuttons are context-aware links from one information system to another that anticipate users’ information needs, take them to appropriate resources, and assist with retrieval of relevant information. To date, infobuttons are mostly found in clinical information systems (such as EHRs and PHRs) to provide clinicians and patients with access to literature and other resources that are relevant to the clinical data they are viewing. The Laboratory for Informatics Development (LID) has worked with HL7 to develop an international standard to support the communication between clinical systems and knowledge resources. MedlinePlus Connect currently provides an HL7-compliant query capability.
In order to increase the usefulness of infobuttons, they are typically linked not to a specific resource, but to an “infobutton manager” that uses contextual information (such as the age and gender of the patient, the role of the user, and the clinical data being reviewed) to select from a large library of known resources those that seem most applicable to the situation. The infobutton manager customizes the links to those resources, using appropriate data from the context, and presents the user with the list of custom-selected, customized links. LID is working with investigators at the University of Utah and the Veterans Administration to establish a freely available, HL7-compliant infobutton manager, known as “Open Infobutton” (http://www.openinfobutton.org) to be a national resource for EHR developers and users, providing all clinical systems users with the capability of integrating knowledge at the point of care.