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Posts from the ‘Wikipedia’ Category

Encyclopedia Britannica Going Totally Digital

We have been witnessing transitions in this area but this is really a huge step in the evolution of human knowledge. Encyclopedia Britannica just announced they would stop printing books and content would only be available online. Moreover, for a week, subscription is free.

Change is good. And this change happened not purely because of the growing importance of Wikipedia, but because of the changing habits and needs of people. Britannica will be able to maintain the highest standards and quality in the digital form just like they did for centuries. Good luck!

For 244 years, the thick volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica have stood on the shelves of homes, libraries, and businesses everywhere, a source of enlightenment as well as comfort to their owners and users around the world.

They’ve always been there. Year after year. Since 1768. Every. Single. Day.

But not forever.

Today we’ve announced that we will discontinue the 32-volume printed edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica when our current inventory is gone.

For one thing, the encyclopedia will live on—in bigger, more numerous, and more vibrant digital forms. And just as important, we the publishers are poised, in the digital era, to serve knowledge and learning in new ways that go way beyond reference works. In fact, we already do.


Rorschach Test Scandal on Wikipedia and the Aftermath

The Rorschach test is used for examining the personality characteristics and emotional functioning of patients as their perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed. In 2009, the New York Times had a report about Dr. James Heilman who posted all 10 pictures on the site, along with research about the most popular responses to each. Of course, it led to a heated debate whether this information should be accessed on Wikipedia or not. Here are the details of this scandal.


Now, 2 years later, a study came out with the title “Challenges since wikipedia: the availability of rorschach information online and internet users’ reactions to online media coverage of the rorschach-wikipedia debate.“. The abstract:

In the first study, the authors conducted 2 Google searches for Web sites containing Rorschach-related information. The top 88 results were classified by level of threat to test security; 19% posed a direct threat. The authors also found Web sites authored by psychologists that divulged sensitive Rorschach information.

In the second study, 588 comments to online news stories covering the Rorschach-Wikipedia debate were coded as expressing favorable or unfavorable opinions regarding the field of psychology, psychologists, and the Rorschach. Eight percent of comments described unfavorable opinions toward psychology, 15% contained unfavorable opinions toward psychologists, and 35% portrayed unfavorable opinions of the Rorschach.

Common themes and popular misconceptions of the Rorschach contained in these comments are described. Implications and recommendations for practice are discussed. Limitations, including the second study’s narrow sample and self-selection bias, are also detailed.



12 Predictions in Healthcare, Technology and Innovation for 2012

Last year, I published a list of my predictions for 2011 in the areas of healthcare, innovation and technology. Now after a year, I checked these items and actually many of them proved to be right (year of tablets, skyrocketing, Siri leading the way for voice controlled apps, etc.), but now it’s time to come up with the predictions for 2012. Here are my 12 predictions, please feel free to add yours in the comment section.

1) Digital only class in social media for medical professionals and e-patients. Well, that’s quite an easy prediction, as I will launch the global form of my social media in medicine university course this February.

2) Social media policy everywhere. Now that we have an open access social media guide for and about pharma; it’s time for the FDA to come up with their own detailed instructions; also universities, healthcare institutions and medical practices, everyone must have its own as almost everyone is using social media intensively.

3) Augmented reality in radiology. Augmented reality has been a major issue for some time, but seeing the video below made it clear for me, this is where we are going to head in 2012. Doctors can see through patients.

4) Health-fitness gadgets will rock 2012. Myself, I’ve been using Striiv as a fitness motivation tool which also logs my data and visualizes my exercises making it easier for me to make plans and see how I’m doing. Other examples include  Jawbone, but you can find even more if you follow the Quantified Self project.

5) Innovations in screen technologies. The form, material and functions of the screens we know now will change dramatically in 2012. Imagine paper screen, holographic screens or flexible screens on your wrist.

6) Internet TV and the operating room. The news sites are full of Apple TV and Google TV, so it’s obvious really innovative internet TVs will be launched in 2012 which brings up the idea of watching operations live on your TV at home. Just check

7) Pharma will be using social media more intensively. I’m not saying all the pharma companies will have properly designed and managed social media presence, but many brands will use social media more intensively as we should be over now the so-called learing phase and they are getting braver by time.

8) More and more tablet-specific apps. I know the number of medicine/health-related mobile apps is growing rapidly, but now it’s time to turn to tablet-specific clinical apps that could be used in radiology, clinical trials or just for grand rounds.

9) Tablets in healthcare institutions. Whenever I talked to professors and colleagues about how I use my tablet in medicine and healthcare, in a few weeks, many of them had their own tablets and started using those apps. This is contagious. In 2012, a lot of hospitals, clinics and departments will hand out iPad or Galaxy Tabs to their employees in order to facilitate teamwork and make the work processes more efficient.

10) Wikipedia will have more medical featured articles, less medical errors. We recently published a paper describing how Wikipedia can be used for global public health promotion. After years of focus on creating new medical entries in Wikipedia, now we the editors focus on including proper references into medical articles. It is going to lead to a huge improvement in quality.

11) More health bloggers turn to microblogging due to lack of time. Although I believe my blog is still my major platform online even if Twitter is the fastest channel and Facebook is the most interactive. But I understand those health bloggers who leave their blogs and turn to Posterious, Tumblr or Twitter exclusively. It takes less time to post a message or entry therefore they will use these with a bigger chance.

12) Google+ health pages on the rise. I like Google+ and I think it could be used in medical communication successfully. As Google+ has only been letting companies or institutions have G+ pages, we are going to see a rise in their number soon. Even Ed Bennett who maintains a list of hospital social media accounts will include these as well.

Let’s finish my list with a great presentation about the trends in healthcare for 2012.

Top Medical Social Media Stories of 2011: Month by Month

2011 was a very intense and exciting year regarding the developments and new insights of the relationship between medicine/healthcare and social media. Here are my favourite stories from 2011 selected and featured month by month.


I had the honour to be included in the Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media; I wrote about how a Samsung Galaxy Tab changed totally my online activities, how Google Translate can be used in medicine and featured HealCam, a medical alternative of ChatRoulette.


Facebook diagnosis by surgeon saved a friend; there was a lively discussion whether pharma companies can edit Wikipedia entries about their own products, it turned out Wikipedia can be a key tool for global public health promotion; and Scienceroll won the Best Medical Technology/Informatics Blog category for the third time in a row in the Medgadget’s Weblog Awards.


The new semester of the Internet in Medicine social media university course was launched, pregnant women could text their due date for free weekly advice during pregnancy on Push, Baby Push;  Webicina was featured by the Kairos Society on Wall Street,  UCSF Medical Center installed a robotic pharmacy in order to remove medication errors from the system; and here is my video message for Stanford about the importance of digital literacy in medical education.


Jay Parkinson summarized his story of being the first online doc, the Webicina iPhone app won the 2011 Medical App Awards; Al Jazeera called me Dr. Twitter after I described how Twitter can be used for medical crowdsourcing, and in the fight against AIDS a time lapse video of a woman with HIV/AIDS was published.


Blogger announced own death after battle with cancer which shocked people, then a woman managed to find a kidney donor through Twitter, The Social Life of Health Information Pew Internet report was released, and top doctors described how a medical professional should start using social media.


I co-authored a medical textbook about medical communication in social media; Google Health was announced to be closed, a cancer patient who blogged about his hospital treatment was threatened with legal action by an NHS trust; Doctors 2.0 and You was the event of the year; and here are some disasters in social media and what we should learn from them.


ePatient Dave rocked TED; Mayo Clinic launched an online community in a perfect way, Pfizer’s Facebook page got hacked and they reacted badly, I listed the reasons why I like Google+ even in medicine; mobile apps got regulated by the FDA; and it turned out iPhones can be used for obtaining ECG.


I published a story about how Twitter can be used to predict epidemics; even waiting rooms can be redesigned to improve healthcare; I described why I’m happy that patients use the web; started managing the social media presence of a huge medical portal; I stated what you write only is forever; and pharma had hard days because of comments on Facebook.


Using hashtags is crucial in medical communication on Twitter;  I talked about the future of health 2.0 in Europe; organized a virtual medical consultation in the virtual world on World Heart Day; this is how creativity can be used in healthcare; and I presented the best apps of a physician at the Doctors 2.0 and You conference.


Nobel winner died days before award announced; I shared a social media love story about a bone marrow donor; an app let us run figures on maps; Google+ was used for case presentations; and Mayo Clinic launched the Know Your Numbers campaign.


I published the 7 Features of the New Generation of Physicians; my open access success story; a summary about the Games for Health conference; hardcore campaigns about men’s health; and revealed why the most viewed medical video on Youtube got millions of hits.


Winners of the Webicina social media story contest were announced; WHO featured Webicina; the launch of a global medial social media course was announced; I described my time management tools and tips in medicine; the open access set of social media guidelines for and about pharma was published; and finally found the cutest story of 2011, parents got insulin-pump tattoos to support diabetic child.

I’m going to post my predictions for 2012 tomorrow and I hope you will stay with next year as well!

Pharma companies editing Wikipedia? Weigh in!

A certain pharmaceutical company contacted me and asked how they can edit Wikipedia entries focusing on their own products. They wish to make corrections as those entries contained misinformation.

This is a tricky issue and while the open access pharma social media guide features a page about Wikipedia, I wanted to ask the community of editors what they think about it.

Please take a look at the discussion and weigh in!

From Google+ to E-mails for Doctors and Wikipedia

What should doctors know about about Google+?  Obviously, this is Google’s last, best attempt to combat Facebook’s dominance.  It features the Google+ Stream, which is similar to a Facebook news feed, which in itself is similar to a Twitter feed.

In this article I would like to propose what could be a simple transparent stepping stone for pharma in gaining more influence over one of the most powerful sources of information on the internet.

Doctors risk a heavy fine and GMC censure if they fail to protect patients’ personal information when sending emails.

  • Blitter is a clinical search engine with content highlighted by clinicians who blog or tweet.

Blue Chip Patient Recruitment, a division of global, full-service marketing agency Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide, has authored a white paper advising patient recruitment specialists on how to effectively implement social media into their recruitment strategies.

Our perceptions and regulations regarding professional behaviour must evolve to encompass these new forms of media. Recent studies, legal cases and media reports highlight how the inappropriate use of these media can harm patients and the medical practitioners involved.


WikiProject Medicine in the British Medical Journal

With plenty of medical editors in Wikipedia, we have recently published a paper on how Wikipedia could be a key tool for global public health promotion. A new paper published in BMJ describes how WikiProject Medicine works. That community is the HQ for medicine-related information and editing activities in Wikipedia. Here is the abstract:

In January 2011, members of WikiProject Medicine published an article about the intricacies, strengths, and weaknesses of Wikipedia as a source of health information and compared it with other medical wikis. 1 The article poses some interesting challenges and opportunities for the global community as Wikipedia’s seven year old WikiProject Medicine reaches an estimated 150 million viewers every month.

The claimed usage of Wikiproject Medicine is just under half of the 362 million monthly viewers of its parent Wikipedia, which is now the sixth most popular site on the internet. 2 This seems set to rise if search engines such as Google continue to show this site at the top of search results and with an upcoming iPhone application that will make it even more convenient and accessible.

Survey: Expert barriers to Wikipedia

As a big fan of Wikipedia, I always try to encourage experts to contribute to this fantastic project. A new survey initiated by the Wikimedia Research Committee and run by Dario Taraborelli, Daniel Mietchen and Panagiota Alevizou aims at investigating this important question. Please complete the survey if you have a few minutes.

Wikipedia is now widely regarded as a mature project and is consulted by a large fraction of internet users, including academics and other experts. However, many of them are still reluctant to contribute to it. The aim of this survey is to understand why scientists, academics and other experts do (or do not) contribute to an open collaborative project such as Wikipedia, and whether individual motivation aligns with shared perceptions of Wikipedia within expert communities. We hope this may help us identify ways around barriers to expert participation.

The survey is anonymous and should take about 10 min to complete. It consists of a short introduction, followed by two main sections in which we contrast shared perceptions and personal motivation, and a final section where you can tell us more about yourself. At the end of the survey, you will find a link to follow the results and the ensuing conversation.

Can pharma companies edit Wikipedia?

Recently, I’ve received plenty of e-mails asking whether pharma companies can or should edit Wikipedia entries about their own products. Here is a quick summary of what the medical Wikipedia community thinks about that:

The Wikipedia:Conflict of interest guideline addresses this, while Wikipedia:Neutral point of view and Wikipedia:Username policy are also relevant.

Disclosure of COI is not required by any Wikipedia policy.

  • Some editors have voluntarily chosen to disclose a conflict of interest by including their employers’ names in their account names, e.g., all these folks from GlaxoSmithKline. More self-identify on their user pages.
  • Self-identification is a two-edged sword: You get points from most users for being honest, but a few will use it to harrass editors. See, e.g., User:James Cantor, a world-class expert on pedophilia, who has been chastised by a handful of (minority-view-holding) editors for not re-re-re-re-disclosing his “conflict of interest” every single time he edits certain pages.
  • Corporate IP addresses are highly traceable. An employee editing from the office should assume that s/he’s hung a big sign on the edit saying “I’m part of a pharmaceutical conspiracy”.
  • Some employers require disclosure, and a few believe it illegal for their employees to edit these pages. (I believe the idea runs like this: We are legally required to say only X about this product; if we change the Wikipedia page, we are legally required to say only X on the Wikipedia page; if the page says anything beyond X, then we’re in violation of the law.) So employees and contractors should check with their employers.

Wikipedia does not prohibit people in the pharmaceutical industry from editing articles. (WP:PAID failed) However, there are strategies that reduce conflict:

  • Vandalism = bad. As far as we’re concerned, anyone is welcome to fix it, even people who work for a pharmaceutical company.
  • Correct serious errors, but leave the fine points to others.
  • Propose sources and improvements on the talk pages.
  • Read WP:MEDRS, especially the bits about not paying too much attention to single studies.
  • Read WP:MEDMOS, especially the bits about not providing medical advice, instructions to patients, or dosage information.
  • Remember that Wikipedia is not a patient guide or drug formulary. Employees might be in a unique position to provide background and historical information, which we very much want. We’d love for every page about a drug to contain some information about its regulatory status around the world, its development, its manufacturing process, and its commercial history (e.g., which companies have worked on it and what its annual sales are).
  • Come to WT:PHARM to get help.

A new essay is being developed right now. See more details at Wikipedia:Conflicts of interest (medicine).

Wikipedia: A Key Tool for Global Public Health Promotion

As there are more than 20,000 medical-related articles in Wikipedia, and a further 6,000 drug-related entries, there are always a lot of things to do. Last year, we decided to summarize what we have been doing in the health sections of Wikipedia with a group of medical editors and make our summary public in an open-access journal. Now it was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The Internet has become an important health information resource for patients and the general public. Wikipedia, a collaboratively written Web-based encyclopedia, has become the dominant online reference work. It is usually among the top results of search engine queries, including when medical information is sought. Since April 2004, editors have formed a group called WikiProject Medicine to coordinate and discuss the English-language Wikipedia’s medical content. This paper, written by members of the WikiProject Medicine, discusses the intricacies, strengths, and weaknesses of Wikipedia as a source of health information and compares it with other medical wikis. Medical professionals, their societies, patient groups, and institutions can help improve Wikipedia’s health-related entries. Several examples of partnerships already show that there is enthusiasm to strengthen Wikipedia’s biomedical content. Given its unique global reach, we believe its possibilities for use as a tool for worldwide health promotion are underestimated. We invite the medical community to join in editing Wikipedia, with the goal of providing people with free access to reliable, understandable, and up-to-date health information.

The official blog of the Wikimedia Foundation acknowledged our publication:

The paper urges physicians and medical professionals to find ways to incorporate contributions to Wikipedia into their work, suggesting ideas for scholarly incentives or possibly issuing continuing medical education credits. To get involved, visit WikiProject Medicine.  You may also want to check out some introductory how-to-edit guides posted by the Wikimedia outreach team.

We’re deeply appreciative of the pioneering work that these editors are carrying out on Wikipedia, alongside their ongoing professional careers.  Wikipedians from all walks of life, and from around the world, are collaborating to further expand the quality and breadth of Wikipedia’s freely available and reusable medical information – furthering the Wikimedia mission of spreading free knowledge around the world.  Thank you!


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