The Medpedia Project has launched a beta version of what it hopes will become the world’s largest online medical encyclopedia.

The initial launch includes a collaborative knowledge base, a professional network and directory and communities of interest in which medical professionals and others will be able to discuss conditions, treatments and lifestyle issues.

Since the project was founded in July 2008, more than 110 organisations have contributed or pledged 7,000 pages of content to the free site, which is being driven by a number of US medical schools and universities.

More than 25 health organisations worldwide have said they will use the new Medpedia Network and Directory to connect with their memberships, including NHS Choices in the UK.

Gary Ashby, programme director for NHS Choices, said: “Collecting the best information about medicine and health and sharing it freely worldwide is an important initiative that could eventually improve and even save many thousands of lives. It is something we are proud to be part of.”

NHS Choices will also provide content for the website where there are gaps. The stated goal of the Medpedia Project is to create a new model of how to assemble, maintain, critique and assess medical knowledge.

It says that over time it will become a repository of up-to-date, unbiased medical information, contributed and maintained by health experts around the world, but freely available to everybody.

Only physicians and people with doctorates in a biomedical or health field will be able to edit the Medipedia knowledge base and use the network tools, but members of the public will be able to suggest articles and edits and join the communities of interest.

“Over the last ten years on the internet, remarkable breakthroughs have taken place in collaborative knowledge sharing and communication that have yet to be provided to the medical community,” said James Currier, Medpedia founder and chair.

“You see the power of these breakthroughs in companies such as Wikipedia and WikiHow, which provide collaborative knowledge sharing, LinkedIn, which provides a professional network and directory, and Facebook, which supports communities of interest.

“We’ve added to these breakthroughs and adapted them for medicine and health. The platform will continue to expand as the medical community finds ever more uses for it.”



NHS Choices