Web 2.0 in Medicine

Web 2.0 is a collection of free services that make the internet more useful and interactive. There is nothing to download because they all work in your browser.

Image source: Dion Hinchcliffe's Web 2.0 Blog

Web 1.0 users follow links to content. By contrast, Web 2.0 users comment, edit and create content. It is all about putting the user in charge. For example, on one of the most popular Web 2.0 sites, Digg.com, readers decide which story will appear on the front page. Digg.com and Wikipedia use the "wisdom of crowds" theory which claims that the people as a whole know more than each individual person.

Suggested Online Services

1. RSS Feeds and Bloglines

RSS feeds are updates that are delivered by the websites when something new is published.

Its inventor, Dave Winer likens RSS to "a sushi bar where the sushi comes around in boats. When you see something you like, you grab it and eat it." The same is true with RSS content that feeds you news aggregator.

"It's like having a personal assistant who goes through every publication and blog that could possibly interest you and picks out stories to bring to your attention.", writes PC Magazine.

Bloglines is probably the best choice among the online RSS readers (aggregators). It helps you to collect the information you want in one place. Instead of visiting 20 websites per day, let them send the information to you. Subscribe to specific searches on Pubmed or any search engine and collect them in one place. Subscribe to the major medical journals RSS feeds. You can publish the updates to a private blog to make a portfolio entry.

See the tutorial "How to Subscribe to Medical RSS Feeds on Bloglines" (PDF, 590 kb).

2. Write Your Documents Online at Writely.com

Writely is a secure online word processor. It is ideal for 2-3 authors who are collaborating on an article. Writely allows you to see all the revisions in real time. No more emailing Word documents back and forth between the authors. The service has an easy export to MS Word and you can monitor the changes to your article by subscribing to the RSS feed in Bloglines. Other alternatives to Microsoft Office are NumSum (a simple Excel "replacement") and gOffice.

3. Online Favorites are Del.icio.us

You can collect your favorite websites online on Del.icio.us and make the list accessible from any computer. Add multiple tags (labels) to describe the content. This bookmarks/favorites list is easily searchable. Yahoo MyWeb2.0 takes the online bookmarking even further by letting you to save pages and images on their servers for free.

4. Blogs

Start a website in 5 minutes. You can publish your thoughts, collection of interesting cases or use it to make portfolio entries. The best overall service is provided by Google on Blogger.com. Read about the other options in Choose a Free Blogging Platform - Check Out Opera Blogs.

How to Use Web 2.0 in Medicine?

This is the PowerPoint file of my talk about Web 2.0 in Medicine. I presented it to the Section of Hospital Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic on 10/17/05, internal medicine residents and faculty at the Cleveland Clinic on 1/05/06, Grand Rounds of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic on 1/25/06, and internal medicine residents and faculty at Case Western Reserve University (St. Vincent/St. Lukes) on 5/18/06.

Update 1/19/2007:
The new version of my presentation Web 2.0 in Medicine is available.

My presentation on Web 2.0 in Medicine from December 2006.

What Is Web 2.0 - Tim O'Reilly
RSS: The Web at Your Fingertips - PC Magazine
Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. Boulos MNK, Maramba I, Wheeler S. BMC Med Educ 2006;6:41.
RSS tutorial for STFM Board. Family Medicine Notes
Innovative Web-based software challenges Windows - USA Today
The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 - Dion Hinchcliffe's Web 2.0 Blog
Web2.0 - extended mind cloud
Web 2.0 Companies I Couldn’t Live Without - TechCrunch.com

Other RSS tutorials:
HOW TO: Getting Started with RSS - Paul Stamatiou
Bloglines: How to use Bloglines - Honeywell.com, Adding RSS feed to Bloglines - University of California Berkeley, Using Bloglines - preetamrai.com
A really simple guide to a powerful tool: RSS. BMJ Career Focus 2006;332:244.
Google Reader - How to use Google Reader - a Flash tutorial by Andy Wibbels
Google Reader Tutorial. DavidRothman.net.
Sergey Brin in conversation with John Battelle about Web 2.0 - ITconversations.com
Microsoft plays catch-up - CNN/Fortune
Web 2.0 - Wikipedia
Web 2.0 in Medicine Presentations by a University of Michigan Librarian

Web 3.0 Concepts Explained in Plain English (Presentations). Digital Inspiration, 2009.

Updated: 06/01/2009


  1. I also find Google Notebook a useful tool for doctors...

  2. Hi, all these things about web2.0 and medicine are really interesting to me, and actually I use them as much as possible, and also see all the potential that all these technologies have, but I notice most of my colleges do not know about it or they are simply not interested in. My question is, how often and how effectively doctors use these tools.

  3. Hello
    I think I read on your site that its possible to convert etoc-s to rss feed. But I cannot find it...