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Posted: 17 Feb 2009 12:03 AM PST
Medpedia Project, an initiative we wrote about during its private beta launch, has unveiled a public version of its trustworthy, fully transparent technology platform for the worldwide health community. Combining social networking with Web 2.0 health information, Medpedia's website offers consumers a Wikipedia for health information, a LinkedIn network for health professionals, and a Facebook-like platform where consumers and experts can have a medical dialogue about treatment and conditions.
Medpedia has developed partnerships with Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, Berkeley School of Public Health, University of Michigan Medical School and other health organizations to help bring content and medical networks to the site. Many of the health institutions are offering the content free of copyright restrictions. Already, 25 medical and government institutions in both the U.S. and the U.K. have signed on to Medpedia to use its professional network.
When comparing the angioplasty information pages on WebMD, Wikipedia, and Medpedia (from a consumers point view), I found Medpedia's post much easier to understand, both visually and content-wise. The pictures of the procedure and condition were detailed and the description offered two versions of the procedure, the clinical and "plain english" version, which can be helpful when doing extensive research on a condition. The ability to edit or add information to these pages can only be done by physicians and PhD's in the biomedical and life sciences fields, adding some legitimacy to what the consumer is reading. The user can even see the name of the post's author and can suggest changes in the post.
What seems particularly innovative is the formation of social networking platforms in Medpedia. While WebMD offers a news platform for professionals, the customized LinkedIn-like application could be valuable in the medical community for finding jobs, speakers for conferences and for referrals. The "Communities of Interest" section, though similar in idea to other online health forums like Trusera or PatientsLikeMe, offers a new twist. Users must submit their real names in profiles. This may be an obstacle to engaging consumers, who remain hesitant to publicly reveal health history or attach their names to certain medical conditions.
Medpedia was founded by James Currier, a well-respected and experienced Silicon Valley entrepreneur. The company is funded and operated by Ooga Labs (also founded by Currier), a technology greenhouse in San Francisco. It doesn't appear that there has been such an integrated and comprehensive medical platform to date. With the backing of the world's best medical institutions and the support of the technology space's most enterprising and respected leaders (Mitch Kapor is on Medpedia's board of advisors), Medpedia has the potential to be a powerful all-in-one technology platform for the health community. Now all Medpedia has to do is incorporate the power of Twitter into the platform.