If you live under a rock, you perhaps have never heard of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia to which is written by volunteers and edited by virtually anyone. It has its critics, but I have always liked it. It was created in 2001 and is now getting a whopping 684 millions visitors each year with more than 75,000 active contributors and more than 10,000,000 articles that have been written in over 250 languages. I have always thought of a Wiki as a wonderful tool for internal training in large corporations.
Yesterday, the launch of Medpedia was announced as an effort to create the world’s largest collaborative medical encyclopedia. According to the press release, "Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, the University of Michigan Medical School and dozens of health organizations around the world are contributing to The Medpedia Project in various ways. "
There is a wide range of support for the project, including health and medical organizations including the American College of Physicians (ACP), the Oxford Health Alliance (OxHA.org), the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, (FOCIS), and the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA).
Over the next few years, the growing community of Editors on Medpedia will create and interlink Web pages for the more than 30,000 known diseases and conditions, the more than 10,000 drugs being prescribed each year, the thousands of medical procedures being performed and the millions of medical facilities around the world. These pages will provide insight into the latest health and medical discoveries along with photographs, video, sound, and images. The site has been designed so that everything on a subject will be simple to access. The main topic pages will be written in language the general public can easily understand, and each topic page will have with it a "Technical” page for professionals to discuss the same topic in more clinical and scientific language. Medpedia will constantly improve in real time, keeping up to date with discoveries in health and medicine.
The potential utility of Medpedia is incredible and it is an interesting effort indeed. One wonders what it will say about various aspects of pharmacology as well as latest treatments. Will treatment guidelines appear in Medpedia prior to their appearing in established venerable venues and going through the laborious processes that are in place now? Will off-label use of drugs be discussed in this venue?
One thing is for sure, the organizers will have a challenge in maintaining credibility if it appears that it is easily manipulated by outside or commercial interests, and they will have to go to lengths in today’s skeptical environment, to demonstrate that they have taken every step to ensure independent editorial control.