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


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.

Finding Credible Health Information Online: MedLibs Round 1.8

Welcome to the eighth edition of MedLib’s Round, the monthly blog carnival that highlights some of the best writing on medical librarianship, encompassing all stages in the publication and dissemination of medical information: writing, publishing, searching, citing, managing and social networking.

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.

Here at Highlight HEALTH, we advocate health literacy for improving self-management in health. To that end, all the sites in the The Highlight HEALTH Network strive to consistently provide credible, reliable sources of health and medical information.

A 2008 study by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest found that searching for health information online can be dangerous, with search engine results pages dominated by websites that appeared legitimate but had zero medical authority [1]. Our hope is that this edition of MedLib’s Round — themed Finding credible health information online — will offer ideas and advice to help people use the Web more effectively to search and find credible health information.

Health Highlights – August 7th, 2009

Health Highlights is a biweekly summary of particularly interesting articles from credible sources of health and medical information that we follow & read. For a complete list of recommeded sources, see our links page.

Health Highlights

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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.


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.

OrganizedWisdom: Much Ado About Very Little

This article was written by Hope Leman.

Consumer health sites are all over the Web and more and more of the content they are producing is working its way into search engine results on health-related topics. Some of this material is solid enough, but much is simply banter or commiseration of one heathcare consumer to another. Knowing ahead of time about these sites can save power searchers in health matters time and prevent ill-considered clicking on what is almost certainly likely to be fluff or outright rubbish.

OrganizedWisdom is one such consumer health site and indeed if you go by its notable presence at conferences such as Health 2.0, it is a market leader in this space. It certainly excels at parlaying a bargain basement marketing gimmick, its WisdomCards, into a reputation for business savvy.


On its home page, the peel away top right corner reveals that WisdomCards are “Your guide to the best health resources” and touts “We do the Searching for you!”


Now, I don’t really get the appeal of the whole WisdomCard thing. Basically, each WisdomCard is simply a page of results organized in much the same way as you might find on MedlinePlus, say, or RightHealth.

about-wisdomcardMoreover, the “hand-crafted by experts” part doesn’t really inspire confidence. Take the WisdomCard for ALS, for instance. Clicking on “About this WisdomCard” reveals that the card was contributed by Tonya J. and reviewed by Pat. However, there is no information about who Tonya J. or Pat are. I was able to find information about the composition of the OrganizedWisdom Physician Review Team. Consisting of four medical doctors, OrganizedWisdom’s Physician Review Board is “responsible for training, educating and guiding all our Guides. In addition, we take great care in hiring people who have extensive health backgrounds, personal experience with health issues, or who may have served as caregivers, health advocates or health professionals.”

Nevertheless, given that credibility is a fairly basic component of consumer health searching on the Web, it is fairly amazing that OrganizedWisdom has received such positive coverage in the business press (the rah-rah, go team buzz it generates in such venues as the Health 2.0 conference is less surprising).

For instance, on the basics of cross-referencing OrganizedWisdom falls flat. Case in point: You can call up a WisdomCard on ALS provided that you call it ALS and not Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and we are told once at the ALS WisdomCard to, “Try also: Muscular Dystrophy; Myasthenia Gravis; and …” (trails off there) but not Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which does not have a WisdomCard of its own, and not Motor Neuron Diseases, which is a topic allocated to a WisdomCard. And on that card you do at least get the last names of the contributor and the reviewer. The Motor Neuron Disease WisdomCard was contributed by Elisa Carter. According to her (self-listed?) health experience, she has spent 15 years working in the medical field as a Supervisor in a Hospital Admissions Department and has managed administrative staff for a large multi-physician office that included pediatricians, a cardiologist and an internist. The Motor Neuron Disease WisdomCard was approved by TaraS. According to her (self-listed?) health experience, “Her medical knowledge comes from years as a medical secretary and in administration for physicians’ offices specializing in internal/pulmonary medicine, orthodontics and pediatrics. She has also served as a health advocate and caregiver for people with disabilities, a role that brought her to a nuanced understanding of Web health search and online research.”

I am not against consumer health sites. Indeed, I get rather impatient with the persnickety attitude some in the medical library community take towards them. But it is unnerving to think that the “serial entrepreneurs” (as founders Steven Krein and Unity Stoakes style themselves) can generate such hype on the basis of some quite sloppy, not ready for prime time stuff as is on OrganizedWisdom. Call in a librarian, guys, to inject some order into the currently messy state of affairs in your WisdomCard world.

I decided to try to determine what qualifications guides (the term appears to cover both contributors and reviewers) must meet. The page Become a Guide outlines a three-step process to apply to become an OrganizedWisdom Guide. First you register with the site, then you fill out a Guide Application, providing as much information as possible about “any related experience, whether in paid or volunteer work, that will contribute to your success. OrganizedWisdom Guides need to be self-motivated, well organized, able to discriminate between good and bad information, and able to check their own work. And yes, spelling and attention to detail counts.” Applicants then take an open book test. At the bottom of the page is a list of reasons OrganizedWisdom rejects Guide applications:

  • No relevant experience.
  • Misspellings or poor grammar on application.
  • Incorrect answers on Open Book Test.
  • Applicant did not check “I am over 13 years old.”
  • Applicant did not check “I agree to the Guide Terms of Service.”
  • Applicant did not provide full name, address and telephone information which we need for payment verification.
  • Applicant does not live in the United States (sorry, we can only accept U.S. applicants).

Although the results on the WisdomCards are acceptable, they are not noticeably better in terms of links or richness of multimedia content than you would find on RightHealth and certainly lack the authoritativeness of MedlinePlus. Additionally, the web site has has navigation problems. For instance, it not always clear when you are in a WisdomCard nor how to get to one, except by browsing through an alphabetical list, and even that is not reliable as there seemed to be a WisdomCard for the man Lou Gehrig but not for the disease named after him, but the biographical entry does not appear to be in the alphabetical list and so on.

All in all, much ado about very little in the case of OrganizedWisdom.

Additional health search resources are listed in the Highlight HEALTH Web Directory.

About the author: Hope Leman writes about Health 2.0 and the e-patient movement at Significant Science. She is also a writer for AltSearchEngines, which covers hundreds of alternative / niche search engines. Hope is a research information technologist for a health network in Oregon and is also Web administrator of the grants and scholarship listing service ScanGrants.