By Tim Peck, MD
The value of the Internet lies in its power of pointed conversation. We ask the Internet what movie we should see tonight, where we can get the best pizza in town, and which flight we should take to go on our next vacation. In the past, the Internet would provide us disorganized answers via search engines which returned thousands of sites for us to fish through in order to find our answers. But now a new generation of sites has arisen to fill our needs. These sites are part review site, part social media, part search engine, and part library.
Recently, my co-resident, Matt Wong, and I got in a fight. It was my fault; I was in the wrong. To make it up to him, I took him out to dinner. We made up before we had finished our salads and moved on to talking about how each of us were keeping up with the literature and what online resources we were using to study.
“I read the blog Emergency Medicine Literature of Note to keep up with the important papers.”
“Never heard of that. I use the Academic Emergency Medicine podcast and I get this email from Medscape that highlights key papers.”
“There should be a site where all this stuff exists in one place.”
“We should make one.”
When you search Google for “pizza in Cambridge, Mass.” (try it for yourself), Google returns a bunch of links to pizza places. Which pizza place should you choose? The one that’s most highly ranked by users: the one consumers ranked with the most stars. The Internet, however, has not yet learned how to converse intelligently when we ask it, “What resource should I use to learn medicine?” Search engines will return site after site after site. One blog has a blog roll that leads us to another, but no clear answer is given. We are left to explore the thousands of sites out there with little guidance.
In this vein, Matt and I created a free resource called iClickEM. The site is an electronic library of emergency medicine educational resources; it also doubles as a review site, much like Yelp or Google’s review feature. Users will post their favorite resources and the community will deem those resources valuable by voting for them.
When you search www.iclickem.com for “ultrasound,” the site returns many ultrasound apps and ultrasound resources. Which one should you use in the ED and which one is worth the money to purchase? The one that’s most highly ranked by users: the one with the most votes.
Our immediate goal is to strengthen the emergency medicine community by providing a centralized platform for all things educational and electronic. Like other Internet platforms, the only way this can be successful is if people contribute to the site. Its value is driven by the consumer – by the EM community itself. By posting resources on the site, commenting on the value of resources, and by voting on the utility of the resource, you can help make the site valuable to the medical community.
We know emergency medicine best, so iClickEM was an obvious place to start. If this venture is successful, however, we hope to expand to iClickIM, iClickSurg, iClickDerm, and so forth.
Medicine is populated by millions of creative and innovative minds. An idea is not useful unless it is shared. Please join us in advancing medical education by joining us, and start posting resources today.
—Timothy C. Peck, MD, is a resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency. He blogs at teachmd.blogspot.com. He and his business partner, Matt Wong, can be reached at email@example.com.