Day One at the Pharma ExL Conference East – Philadelphia

How does one even begin to sort through all of the health care information that is on the Internet today?  Getting health care information is one of the most commonly sought pursuits on the Web. But the volume and variance in quality can be overwhelming.  

Yesterday was the first official day of the 4th Annual Pharma ExL Conference East held in Philadelphia.  I did not get to attend the morning session, but was able to get there for a good part of the afternoon.  In the late afternoon, as I indicated yesterday, I held a "talk show" format with the brilliant Dr. Bersi Mesko, a Hungarian physician I met in Berlin last March.  Berci got to be the brains, I got to channel Oprah.

Berci (who blogs at Science Roll and Tweets at @berci) has been a pioneer in elevating digital literacy of both patients and health care professionals through his work in teaching and as a curator of information for Webicina.

That is what we discussed first.  I mentioned Webicina yesterday and the tageline for the site is that it s an aggregator of social media centered on medicine.  But what does that mean exactly?  It isn't language that jumps off the page and tells you exactly what it is or why you would use it.  

Webicina, as Berci has created it, goes beyond merely providing health care information.  Berci is more than a collector, he is a curator.  Like in a museum.  A museum doesn't bring in any old stuff off the street, it brings together collections of the best materials and presents them for you so that you don't have to venture out into the world to find them.  While it is indeed fun to go scouring around Italy to view Roman antiquities, you may be stuck in New York, which means that the Metropolitan might be the place to go.  There they have curated different collections of art in a vast array of categories.  

Likewise, Berci has done that in health care, for the benefit of both the patient and the professional. Webicina has collected information in many categories that are disease-specific such as HIV, Asthma, Leukemia, just to name a few – or for conditions such as pregnancy.  Under these categories a patient, for example, will be able to find the information that Berci has curated on your behalf.

For example, looking in the diabetes category, one will find information that has been assessed and included about diabetes that includes:

  • News and Information on Diabetes
  • Diabetes in the medical blogosphere
  • Diabetes Blog Carnivals
  • Diabetes Podcasts and Interviews
  • Diabetes Community Sites, Facebook Groups and Forums
  • Twitterfeeds
  • Diabetes Wikis
  • Diabetes videos, animations and videocasts
  • Diabetes on Mobile
  • Second Life and Diabetes
  • Social Bookmarks
  • Medical Search Engines
  • Diabetes Slideshows

So, if you are a patient with diabetes and you want to find out all you can, you can build your own set of bookmarks that are categorized, or you can come here and find information that has been found for you and has been identified rather than sorting through it all on your own.  There are now over 20 categories banked here.  

And for healthcare professionals, there are similar aggregations set up under categories that include specific medical specialties and current topics such as Emergency Medicine, Stem Cells, and Cardiology to name a few.  

Want the information in a language other than English?  Not a problem.  The site offers materials collected in 16 different languages.  

Whether you are doing research as a patient, or a professional, or even as a curious researcher wanting to know where the leading twitter feeds are on a number of specialized health care topics, the information has been carefully brought together here.  Webicina is a site where the word "aggregator" takes on a whole new meaning.   


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