There’s a new wiki in the health social media town,

Among the most popular online sources for health information is Wikipedia. Millions of people search Wikipedia daily for insights into medical conditions, drugs, and procedures.

Now comes the announcement of a sharply-focused wiki from the most credible of academic health institutions: Harvard, Michigan (my alma mater), Stanford, UC-Berkeley, and a host of other highly-branded health associations and stakeholders including the NIH, the CDC, and the FDA. Medpedia estimates it will cover information on at least 30,000 conditions/diseases and 10,000 drugs.

The press release on Medpedia’s website terms the project, the
“world’s largest collaborative online encyclopedia of medicine.”

This project will be a sort of hybrid wiki and encyclopedia in that it will accept contributions from clinicians and scientists and experts, but will also have some restricted areas.

According to the project’s press release, Medpedia has plans to feature, “non-invasive text-based advertising” to cover costs.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
It’s all about trust and credibility when it comes to accessing health information. I like the hybrid model of Medpedia — that the project’s advisers will maintain a strong clinical rein on some aspects of the content. This may achieve the magic balance between the slow world of peer-reviewed journals and the sometimes-too-fast publishing of bad medical information.

Consumers will have access to the same high-level content that their clinicians will. Those people who choose to use this source can be better armed when entering the doctor’s exam room with this deep, credible kind of information.

Based on the mock-up pages, examples of which are shown here, the graphics look clean and clear in a “How Stuff Works” sort of mode.

We’ll have to wait until later in 2008 to kick the tires on Medpedia, but its preliminary pedigree looks promising. Welcome, Medpedia, to the growing landscape of health/social media.