Medpedia Now Includes News & Analysis, Alerts, Q&A

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The Medpedia Project is a long-term, worldwide initiative to develop an online collaborative source of health and medical information for medical professionals and the general public. Launched in February 2009, the website currently has 34,100 pages of health and medical content (based on a Google domain search), an increase of over 2-fold since July 2009.

The Medpedia Project recently announced the addition of three new tools for sharing and advancing medical knowledge [2]. The services complement Medpedia’s reliable crowdsourcing of health and medical information.

Medpedia: Reliable Crowdsourcing of Health and Medical Information

According to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61% of adults look online for health information [1]. Surprisingly however, three-quarters of those searching don’t consistently check the source and date of the health reference they find [2]. Indeed, searching for health information online is dangerous and finding credible, up-to-date sources of health information can be a challenge.

Wikipedia is the Web’s most popular free online encyclopedia. If you’ve ever searched for health or medical content online, Wikipedia articles typically appear at or near the top of search engine results. Nevertheless, Wikipedia’s medical entries are prone to manipulation and are not reliable [3]. Moreover, in many cases you don’t know who has contributed content nor their background or expertise.

Wisdom of crowds is the new model for innovation on the Internet in which collective knowledge is thought to be superior to the intelligence of the few. Nevertheless, not all crowds are wise. Recent cases and new research suggests that crowdsourcing is only truly successful when it is focused on a specific task and when the most effective collaborators are involved [4].

Enter Medpedia.

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The Medpedia Project is a long-term, worldwide initiative to develop an online collaborative source of health and medical information for medical professionals and the general public. A joint effort with Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, Berkeley School of Public Health, University of Michigan Medical School and other global health organizations, the intent of Medpedia is to be a repository of up-to-date unbiased medical information, contributed and maintained by health experts around the world and freely available to the general public. Unlike Wikipedia, which allows anyone to modify pages, Medpedia content creators and editors are required to have an M.D., D.O. or Ph.D. in a biomedical field; each contributor has an author page detailing their qualifications and background.

Top Health Search Engines of 2008

Mednar and GoPubMed have been voted Top Health Search Engines of 2008 by two independent measures.

Mednar is a federated search engine designed to quickly access information from a multitude of credible sources. Federated search is a new way to comprehensively search multiple databases in real time, ensuring a superior level of search results by ignoring outdated articles, irrelavant research and spam. Mednar offers several tools to narrow searches, drill down into topics and discover new information sources.

GoPubMed is a knowledge-based search engine for the life sciences and is based on PubMed, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 18 million citations from MEDLINE, the world’s most comprehensive source of life sciences and biomedical bibliographic information, and other life science journals for biomedical articles dating back to 1948. Once keywords are submitted to PubMed, the resulting abstracts are classified using Gene Ontology (a hierarchical vocabulary for molecular biology covering cellular components, biological processes and molecular functions) and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), a hierarchical vocabulary covering biomedical and health-related topics. Quite simply, GoPubMed enables users to find more relevant information significantly faster.

Health Search and the Semantic Web

Before it gets too far behind us, I wanted to write briefly about the Health 2.0 Conference, which was held in San Francisco on October 22 and 23rd. The Health 2.0 Conference focuses on the application of Web 2.0 technologies to the fields of medicine and healthcare. Specifically, I wanted to comment on health search, the semantic web and the demonstration of the health 2.0 service iMedix.

Search engines today rely extensively on keywords. However, with health-related searches, context or meaning takes on great importance. Consider this: a study earlier this summer found that simply replacing the search term “vaccine safety” with “vaccine danger” replaced virtually all accurate search results (out of the first 20) with inaccurate results [1]. Granted, there are several limitations to the study (small sample size, controversial topic), but it nonetheless illustrates how a single keyword can dramatically alter search results.

Cancer Research Blog Carnival #7

Welcome to the 7th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, a blog carnival devoted to cancer research. This edition includes some great articles on cancer research ethics, cancer therapeutics, cancer stem cells, cancer genetics and cancer biology.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.

I believe it’s important to maintain perspective on the significance of cancer research and the impact it has on patients. As such, this months edition of the Cancer Research Carnival includes narratives from some people affected by the disease. I think their stories will inspire us all with their determination and courage, and serve as motivation to continue searching for therapies to combat cancer.cancer-research-logo.jpg