Can Cloud-Based Doctors’ “Lounges” Help Keep Your Fund of Knowledge Current?

April 22, 2014
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doctors and eHealth

One of my medical school professors began morning rounds with a teaching moment about uncertainty: “Telling a patient ‘I don’t know’ builds trust, because it lends more credence to what you actually do know.”

doctors and eHealth

One of my medical school professors began morning rounds with a teaching moment about uncertainty: “Telling a patient ‘I don’t know’ builds trust, because it lends more credence to what you actually do know.”

As I studied medicine, I often wondered what ‘knowing’ really meant. Socrates did say that “true wisdom is knowing nothing,” but I soon realized that knowledge about knowledge wasn’t just for philosophers. Self-directed learning is a lifelong endeavor for doctors. So do the best docs stockpile their knowledge like a medical library or curate it more like Google search results? If the most popular source for healthcare information for doctors is Wikipedia, the answer seems to be a hybrid.

The success of medicine largely depends on how well it develops, acquires, and uses knowledge. Yet doctors face an exploding base of bio-medical literature increasing in size and complexity. Going by MEDLINE citations, there are nearly 5000 new entries added per day. Add that to non-indexed clinical trials and human genome discoveries, and just finding relevant literature to your practice — let alone keeping up — practically requires hiring Watson to troll the literature for you.

Get your own e-librarian

Some tools that expand the find-ability of information are free and can sleuth the stacks for you. Docphin and Read by QxMD are health information services that search the news and journal articles pertinent to you. Despite impact factors, not all articles from a journal are equivalent. You’ll get notifications about which articles your colleagues are actually reading so you know what might matter more to your practice.

Be social and get credit

If Wikipedia taught us anything, the next best thing to knowing is building on community knowledge. Crowdsourced social media collaborations among verified physicians are growing and can often be more timely and inspiring than the latest peer-reviewed publications.

  • Often billed as “LinkedIn for doctors,” platforms such as Doximity and QuantiaMD have become go-to sources for securely curbsiding colleagues about real patient care, putting the fax machine to rest when it comes to referrals. They also automatically track content accessed, allowing you to claim CME credits. If you’re not ready to put your opinions out there next to your name, Sermo is a social platform for physicians to anonymously discuss salient issues about today’s practice.
  • Are you more of the Instagram type? Figure1 is a photo-sharing app for docs to crowdsource visual knowledge about their images. The interface allows filtering by body part or specialty.
  • There’s even an answer for the YouTubers out there. The Doctor’s Channel is a library of short video bites filled with news relevant to physician practice and living. The insights, opinions and physician education material are free, and CME credits are available.

Gamify future lifelong learning

A career in medicine means maintenance of certification, but CME doesn’t always have to be passive absorption. Innovators in medical education, such as Osmosis, are already transforming medical education by making it highly relevant (it knows your curriculum), interactive (you can quiz your colleagues), and fun (the app involves watching episodes of House). They have plans to apply their technology to CME, and if they can similarly context-match the needs of practicing clinicians, the prognosis is likely very good.

This article first appeared on Practice Fusion.

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