Medical Wikis May Change the Way We Study Medicine

A wiki is a web site which allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit available content. The most famous wiki-based projects is Wikipedia, the world-largest free encyclopedia with more than 1.5 million English-language articles, which can be edited by anyone. Few studies have explored the effect of this new medium on medical education.

AskDrWiki by Cleveland Clinic Cardiology Fellows

Quite a few things have happened since the last time I wrote about AskDrWiki:

- I emailed Dean Giustini about AskDrWiki and he referenced the site in his landmark BMJ editorial How Web 2.0 is changing medicine

- I met the wiki editor, Ken Civello, who is an electrophysiology fellow at the Cleveland Clinic and a really smart guy

- Both Ken and I wrote the abstract "A Wiki-based Web Site as an Educational Tool for Cardiology Fellows" which will be presented at the meeting Medical Education for the 21st Century at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Annual Education Retreat on February 8, 2007. I like this line the best: "The pockets of your lab coat are only so big and what you remembered last month, you may not remember next year. The ability to have access to the "collective online memory" of a fellowship program may help fellows enhance their education, and ultimately, provide better patient care." I will upload the poster here next week.

In the meantime, Ken and his collaborators have added some useful new features to AskDrWiki:

- Videos of Coronary Angiograms which are now searchable on Google Video
- Videos of Echocardiograms
- EKGs

JTF (Just the Facts) Wiki at the University of Michigan

JTF (Just the Facts) Wiki is a "Manual for the Interns Online" by medical students and residents at the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor VA Hospitals. The manual was started in 1991 and is in its 13th edition (?!) now. JTF has a well-done procedure section and some good videos of central line placement which I will upload in a separate post.


I think medical wikis will change the way we study and teach medicine. In the foreseeable future, their role is not in creating "the most authoritative textbook" ever but rather in creating a "collective online memory" for a group of learners. Where these new web tools will lead us in the future, as usual, nobody knows, and this is the beauty of the amazing medium that the Internet is.

Mike Cannon-Brookes has a nice presentation on Organisational Wiki Adoption on SlideShare (link via This may convince your department or hospital to start a wiki, if you do not already have one.

Wikis in Plain English

Wiki from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
AskDrWiki -- A Collaborative Medical Encyclopedia
Do We Need a Free Medical Encyclopedia?
Which Wiki is Right for You? School Library Journal, 5/1/2007.
Elsevier’s WiserWiki., 11/2007.
Medpedia Project from Harvard Medical School.

Further reading:
Web Watch: Living in the brave new world of medical wikis. ACP Internist, 01/2008.
ACP Internist on Medical Wikis., 01/2008.

Updated: 01/12/2008

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