A ‘Wellcome’ cure

The Wellcome Library has opened up its archives of historical memorabilia for general use.  According to the library the collection encompasses ‘manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements’ and amounts to some 100,000 images.

Releasing the images under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence means that they can be used free of charge by anyone for personal or commercial purposes, provided that the image is accompanied by an acknowledgement as to source.  So whether you are treating your patients for gout or for sprained limbs, for persistent pain or for an aching tooth there may well be a suitable image which you can use to amuse or to inform your patients.

In opening up the archive the Head of the Wellcome Library, Simon Chaplin, said “Together the collection amounts to a dizzying visual record of centuries of human culture, and our attempts to understand our bodies, minds and health through art and observation. As a strong supporter of open access, we want to make sure these images can be used and enjoyed by anyone without restriction.”  The earliest image in the collection is a fragment of an Egyptian herbal, inscribed on papyrus.  From that early beginning the collection encompasses medieval manuscripts, Victorian cartoons and some early photographs exploring the movement of the human body.

Providing effective patient treatments can be challenging at times and those working in the health profession know that keeping the tone light and adding touches of humour can help to alleviate patient anxiety.  Access to an archive such as this can help to make the difference; although whether some of the images such as the Gilray cartoons portraying gout sufferers drinking port will teach us anything is a matter for debate.

But to be truly effective light heartedness needs to be tempered with professionalism and this is not always easy to achieve in a busy health practice.  Answering the phone, finding or filing patient notes, sending out invoices and other administration tasks can all disrupt patient treatments.  Outsourcing some of this work to a virtual assistant service can help to smooth over the working day and maximise time taken on treating patients.  Virtual Assistant services can be taken on a permanent or ‘as required’ basis.  This means that health practitioners can concentrate on what they do best, treating and reassuring patients, whilst being reassured themselves that behind the scenes day to day administration tasks such as phone answering, appointment reminders and invoicing are not being neglected.