Today’s beta launch of Medpedia, a wiki joint initiative by various prestigious global institutions (e.g., Harvard Medical School) that only lets pre-screened physicians and PhDs post, raises interesting questions about letting the public post about their conditions and health experiences. Certainly, the content-rich site will supplement existing health info sites and provide confidence to consumers in the reliability of its information in light of Wikipedia’s medical inaccuracies, and I hope the site builds an active community of physicians to post and moderate. We definitely like Medpedia’s focus on controlling the quality of content regarding conditions and treatments, categories where users assume advice is coming from authoritative and objective sources and not from those whose accuracy might be suspect (e.g., advertisers or lay people).
Crowd-sourced medical content can at times be useful to the public, such as for doctor reviews (e.g., Vitals.com or RateMDs) and social networking (e.g., PatientslikeMe). However, in these categories, there have been allegations of misleading doctor reviews on Yelp, and this recent NYT article on Zagat for Doctors seems to dismiss the concept of crowd-sourced doctor reviews entirely, quoting one doctor as stating the Zagat-Wellpoint initiative was “treating medical care provided by dedicated and caring physicians as if we were preparing a meal.” Our opinion is that while crowd-sourced medical content definitely has a place among screened or expert content to provide consumers with comprehensive info, medical websites should take more effort than, say, restaurant or product review sites to make sure that the public is not provided with misleading information.