Sunday, December 18, 2016

How Indian medical colleges can improve medical care through Wikipedia


Perhaps the most widely accessed source of information about health topics around the world is Wikipedia.

However, the quality of Wikipedia articles on health and illness often leave a lot to be desired.

Even worse, since the vast majority are in English, they are still not very useful for most Indians. The regional Indian language editions of Wikipedia remain neglected poor cousins.

It's high time we changed this sad state of affairs. This is where Indian medical colleges can step in. Each college should adopt a particular specialty , and get their students and residents to contribute, edit and translate healthcare articles in their local language on Wikipedia. This will ensure that the content is richer ; is locally accurate and relevant ; and the references are more up to date.

Their work can be supervised by their professors, and they can be given academic credit for this. Not only will this help them to learn more, it will also help them to communicate better with their patients in the future. Retired senior doctors can also edit the entries, to ensure that quality standards are maintained.

This would be a simple and cheap way of being able to ensure that Indians have free access to reliable content on medical problems in their local language ! It would make sure that Information Therapy is available to all Indians at the tip of their fingertips.

Information Therapy can heal a sick healthcare system. It helps patients get better medical care by

    Promoting SelfCare , and helping them to do as much for themselves as they can
    Helping them with Evidence-Based Guidelines , so that they can ask for the right medical treatment that they need - no more and no less
    Helping them with Veto Power, so they can say No to medical care they don't need, thus preventing overtesting and unnecessary surgery .

In a pilot initiative at the University of California, San Francisco, 43 students did this to such effect that hits on the articles to which they were assigned jumped from 1.1 million to nearly 22 million.'

The one thing India has is a lot of medical students ! Why aren't we making better use of their expertise and knowledge ? Maybe the PMO needs to start a Wiki Health Abhiyaan !

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