Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Medpedia Project - Verified Medical Wiki

File this one under "Well if you can't beat 'em join em." The Medpedia Project is a collaboration between four leading medical schools, Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, Medpedia Project ScreenUniversity of Michigan Medical School and the Berkeley School for Public Health.

The project is currently asking for content from health organizations, health professionals and others in the health care industry.

The goal is to provide open source but vetting medical information that would be available to all users around the globe.

According to the web site Medpedia will serve as "a catalog, database and learning tool about health, medicine and the body for doctors, scientists, policymakers, students and citizens that will improve medical literacy worldwide."

As always there are questions and the FAQ does answer some of mine. Unlike Wikipedia the editors will be selected and approved.

From the FAQ's:
Only M.D.s, Ph.D.s in a biomedical field and people with medical credentials will be allowed to contribute to Medpedia. Although only M.D.s can edit pages on Medpedia, anyone with an interest in health, medicine and the body is invited to be a Member of the Medpedia professional networking community.
The editors will not be paid, it is a voluntary participation. The site eventually hopes to support itself via text advertisements.

One of the questions that hasn't been answered in the FAQ's is whether alternative medical practices such as Acupuncture, Naturopathic medicine, Oriental Medicine practices and similar treatment options would be permitted on wiki.

Angioplasty Example
My List of Questions

A question I have is what is to stop a doctor who has an relationship with a pharmaceutical company to write content in favor of a company that might provide a gratuity to support his/her promotion of certain treatment options? What mechanism is in place to find out if the medical editor's hands have been greased with "special consideration?"

Would the medical community rat 'em out or would it be considered free speech? What would be the controls on the type of content a doctor could or could not post? For example, if the information is counter to what the American Medical Association accepts but the doctor has verifiable information would it be posted or blocked?

My other questions involve reading and comprehension accessibility by average users. What about health care literacy issues? Is it going to be accessible for vision and hearing impaired users? Multiple languages? Video, is there going to be video of certain procedures? Captioned video of course.

Forgive me, I'm greedy. But if this is going to be a global information repository it has a lot of work ahead of them. Some of that work has been paved by web sites like WebMD

What will Medpedia bring to the party and why would library folks use this instead of PubMed or go directly to some of the medical school library/resource web site?

I look forward to having another tool to help folks make health care decisions. I hope it is up to the challenge. Time will tell.

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