Azzam talks to NPR about the ‘double-edged sword’ of crowdsourced medicine

Friday, February 28, 2014

AzzamAmin Azzam, MD, MA, recently spoke to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered about the prospects and challenges of using Wikipedia to disseminate medical knowledge.  A study released in January by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found that the website is the single most accessed source of medical information not only for patients, but also for health professionals – a potentially troubling and medically dangerous fact, given Wikipedia’s open editing policies.

"I think that's the double-edged sword of Wikipedia," Azzam told NPR's Arun Rath. "Because anyone can edit, we don't necessarily know the expertise of the people doing the editing. On the other hand, the reason it's so popular is because everyone can contribute.”

Azzam began teaching a course in November offering fourth-year medical students a chance to earn credit for editing Wikipedia articles as part of an ongoing collaboration between the UCSF School of Medicine and the Wiki Project Med Foundation. “What I think we’re doing,” said Azzam, “is bringing medical students, who have a certain amount of expertise, to the table to be adding to the wisdom of the crowd, if you will.”


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