The Medpedia Project, a joint effort on the part of Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, Berkeley School of Public Health, and other global health organizations, announced Tuesday that it has launched the beta version of its new site which it calls a new model "of how the world will assemble, maintain, critique and access medical knowledge."
The site features a repository of up-to-date medical information, contributed and maintained by health professionals from around the world. The site also boasts a Professional Network and Directory for visitors to find health professionals and organizations, a Communities of Interest section where medical experts and patients can share conditions and treatments, and a growing knowledge base featuring information on health issues ranging from back pain to diabetes.
Since the Medpedia Project was announced in July, over 100 organizations have contributed over 7,000 pages to the site's knowledge base.
I had the chance to use the new Medpedia platform Tuesday and I was impressed by the site. As with any wiki, you can search the site for specific ailments or ask general questions that might already have been answered by the community of doctors.
The site's Knowledge Base section consists of Wiki articles, but there's one catch: only physicians and those with a Ph.D. are allowed to edit the articles, and only once their credentials are certified. That cuts down on the number of erroneous bits of information that crop up on the site and, in my opinion, makes the site more reliable than a resource like Wikipedia, which anyone can modify.
Overall, I was impressed with the wealth of information Medpedia provides. After inputting simple keywords like "back pain," I was brought to a results page that not only featured a Wiki containing general information about the ailment and links to other, related Medpedia Wikis, but also a series of answers provided by doctors to questions asked by the site's users. And although some weren't directly targeted at my query, I could have easily asked my own set of questions, which would have been answered directly by a medical professional.
Since Medpedia is only in beta, I can't fault the company for not having information on every conceivable health topic--there were a few obscure conditions I looked up just to see if it provided articles on them and it didn't--but more Wiki pages are being added each day and the community is growing. It will be interesting to see how this project grows, and I'll be keeping an eye on it to see if it can eventually provide more information and value to users than WebMD.