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Clinical eCompanion -- Free Information for Primary Care
Kate Flewelling, MLIS
Executive Director
National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region
Health Sciences Library System
University of Pittsburgh
Clinical eCompanion (http://ecompanion.pitt.edu/) is a free clinical information website that searches multiple free, reliable health information resources. The website is geared towards primary care providers, especially those without access to a health sciences library or subscription databases. Anyone can use Clinical eCompanion to find patient handouts in multiple languages, clinical practice guidelines, drug interactions, and other essential point-of-care information.

Clinical eCompanion was developed over the course of three years by librarians at the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System (HSLS), with funding from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NNLM MAR). The project team, Charles B. Wessel, Julia Dahm, and John LaDue, explored the feasibility, usability, and validity of the point-of-care information tool for use by primary care providers in answering real-time clinical questions. Healthcare providers included in the testing found Clinical eCompanion to be current, relevant, and complete.

After the initial project period, Clinical eCompanion was launched as a joint project of the NNLM MAR and HSLS.


There are some resources that Clinical eCompanion searches individually so that users can go directly to patient education or drug information or other types of information. These are available at the top of the home page:
  • Drug Information (DailyMed*, Pillbox*, Dietary Supplement Label Database*, MedScape's Drug Information Checker)
  • Research articles (PubMed*, limited to Free Full Text)
  • Patient Education (MedlinePlus*, HealthReach*)
  • Screening Recommendations (Electronic Preventive Services Selector)
If the provider is looking for additional evidence-based information, there is a federated search box. Websites searched include:
  • PubMed Health*
  • National Guideline Clearinghouse
  • Effective Health Care Program Research Summaries, Reviews, and Reports (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention A-Z index and MMWR
  • NHS Evidence Search
  • ARUP Consult: the Physician's Guide to Laboratory Test Selection and Interpretation
  • Radiopaedia.org
* Denotes a National Library of Medicine resource


The target audience for the website is primary care providers. Librarians also may find it useful, especially if they work with family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, or other primary care specialties. It is an efficient way to search multiple resources at one time.


Clinical eCompanion is not designed to be a replacement for subscription-based clinical decision support tools. It lacks some of the functionality that librarians might expect from a subscription database, such as a controlled vocabulary, the ability to use quotation marks around search terms, and truncation. There is the possibility of finding some outdated material, especially in PubMed or in the MMWR. We still include these resources because they often have clinical guidance in the event of emerging infectious diseases or other public health threats before other free resources, such as the National Guideline Clearinghouse.

Promotion and Training

Health sciences libraries are encouraged to promote Clinical eCompanion to primary care and unaffiliated primary care providers and to health professions students who will be practicing in underserved areas. Staff of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region, have created a printable, shareable flyer to promote the resource. The Clinical eCompanion "About" page includes a five minute introductory video. In the future, slide decks and other promotional tools will be created.

NNLM MAR staff are available to provide online demos of Clinical eCompanion. We welcome feedback on the resource and like to hear how it is being used in the field. Please email nnlmmar@pitt.edu to schedule a demo or offer comments.

This article was supported by the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UG4LM012342. The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


Wessel CB, Dahm JJ, LaDue J (2016, May 17). Clinical eCompanion: development of a point-of-care information tool. Paper presented at Mosaic '16, the joint meeting of the Medical Library Association (MLA), the Canadian Health Libraries Association/Association des bibliotheques de la sante du Canada (CHLA/ABSC), and the International Clinical Librarians Conference (ICLC), Toronto ON.

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