What’s on the horizon of Medicine 2.0

Travel and deadlines got in the way of me posting about the second day of the recent  Medicine 2.0 Congress in Toronto, but I saved my notes.

Something super-cool I saw there: Medting.com, a "global" repository of medical images, developed in Spain and soon to branch out to the U.S. Is it another YouTube for medicine? Not exactly. Miguel Cabrer, president of the company, sees it as more like a Snomed for multimedia.

In Canada, they’re getting interactive with physicians.

Late last month, the Canadian Medical Association launched a social networking portal called Asklepios—named after the Greek god of medicine—on its site. Access is limited to physicians, but CMA online content director Pat Rich says it’s partially in response to doctors who bemoan the demise of the staff lounge.

In the spirit of Facebook and MySpace, it is more than just a professional site; physicians can use Asklepios for blogging, discussing hobbies, posting photos and even, theoretically, dating.

Rich says the CMA is staying pretty hands-off when it comes to content. He also says the association made sure the site was hosted in Canada and not the U.S. because physicians otherwise might be subject to surveillance under the USA Patriot Act. Really. This is not the first time I’ve heard of Patriot Act concerns in health care outside the U.S., and it’s a topic I’d like to explore some more.

Physicians in Ontario specifically have another networking option for professional issues, as the OntarioMD.ca point-of-care resource portal recently added a "groups" function. Groups can create a public Web presence and also set up a private members area for sharing files and calendars. Jason Aprile, web contact manager for the government-run OntarioMD site, says there are 8,400 registered physician users now.

Dr. Chris Paton, a UK native who now is at the University of Auckland, says the Next Big Thing might just be social networking for mobile devices. He’s particularly bullish on the mobile clinical assistant and PDAs and smartphones with Wi-Fi capability. One of the benefits of Wi-Fi is that users can connect to more powerful computers, such as for image manipulation, overcoming one of the long-standing shortfalls of PDAs, Paton says.

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