Wikis and eHealth

by Hans on 2005/05/30

I read this interesting article on Time.com describing the “wiki” phenomenon, titled “It’s a Wiki, Wiki World“. Could this wiki be a glimpse of the future eHealth/health care world?

My personal experiences with wikis have been via wikipedia.org and from an experimental (well, I call it experimental, but “development” may be a better term) wiki here at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation. Honestly, when I first used the wiki at the Centre, I didn’t really know how it should be used, probably because most of my work was independent at the time. I can see how groups of people can quickly develop an advanced body of knowledge – as seen by wikipedia.org.

Could wikis be the future of health education? We already know that patients are becoming more proactive in their care and taking more ownership over decision making. I suspect that the existing newsgroups and on-line discussion forums form the basis of what we would call a “wiki”. These forums have information on treatment, symptom management, and information about living with conditions. If we were to distill this information, separating out the encouragement and other information, we’d probably have very specific information that could be used by other patients in a very accessible and patient-centered format.

I just think that wikis provide a means to concentrate and collect little bits of disparate information. In health care, we know that there is knowledge separated throughout the system, within people and with no systematic means of sharing it. Maybe wikis can provide a means of capturing and sharing information between patients, between providers, and between managers of the health system.

{ 2 comments }

gnuf May 31, 2005 at 3:05 am

You haven’t discussed the fundamental collaborative feature of wikis: allowing edits by anyone. The power comes from using a common application platform (i.e. a web browser) to both access and transform the information.

Hans May 31, 2005 at 7:05 am

Thanks for this important clarification. I guess you don’t really see the “potential” when working on a single, independent project that isn’t easily accessible to others.

In this way, that’s why I thought that patients could contribute to a “patient wiki” by individually contributing to the wiki to create a collective body of knowledge.

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