November 18, 2011

Ask a friend - the universal EM questions experiment

My emergency program here in Lund (Sweden) is one of the first in Scandinavia and for that we are proud of. Our ED is a well functioning one with ambitious residents. There is no doubt we have had enormous help from modern IT and social media, especially since we are a totally on our own whereas the program is only 10 years old. I am not sure Joe Lex understands what an impact his Free emergency talks has had for our group, giving us opportunity to listen to the great talks from the big conferences - that was how it all started.

The problem is still that we haven't got so many to ask when our group is exhausted. But that doesn't silence the hunger for an answer, in the opposite the frustration just grows.

I am sure there are other colleges out there, in dark corners - having exactly the same problem. So I decided to start an experiment to see if we can relief the frustration with modern crowdsourcing. Therefor I have started a Google Docs document, open for everyone to edit, with a few questions from our group to kickstart this project. Michelle Lin (UCSF) has previously had experience with Google docs crowdsourcing and has a huge interest to in EM academics so I asked her to help me and she even has a question on the list, waiting for a clever EM physician to answer. Should this go well I am prepared to take it a step further and develop a better platform but currently I think Google Docs this is the easiest way to start. Remember if you have a Google account the document will reside as shared on your GD home page and be bolded everytime there is a new question/answer.

Alright, everything is set and we are ready to go. The magic link then is

ADDENDUM feb 2012

Judging by Blogger statistics this post has had very many readers so I assume the idea must be something my colleges are interested in. As I had suspected the text based format is not the best one if this is to roll on, for example there is no way to "upvote" a the best answers and just pushing answered questions further down is no good way of archiving old questions.
In the meantime I have discovered Quora which seems to fulfill all our needs of an easy, web-based Q & A tool for asking and answering EM questions by the community. Although not locked or restricted, it's tagging and grouping system would make it incredible easy to use for the EP community and being a modern social-web based tool (for example using Facebook login credentials) it has the potential to become the true tool I was looking for. The one thing we need is more EPs to sign up and start using it and as such I suggest you all go there and start following the Emergency medicine group.

1 comment:

  1. I've had a very good question from @nickgenes on Twitter, too long to answer with 140 characters:
    "I like your EM questions google doc, @zonofthor but why not just use ?"
    And @DrVes added "- Or Google Plus?"

    My answer:
    I'd love to move this project up to more grounded platforms which are built for things like this but the problem as ever is to recruit doctors to a new website, involving creating a new account somewhere. I know it's dead easy to connect your Twitter/Facebook/Google account but the sad fact is that most of our colleges just don't know how to do it. If just my every college had a Google account for instance, Google+ has the potential to become a game changer for me practising EM up here in Sweden; real-time communication with online colleges for instant answers and help... case discussions with photos & videos (since everything is locked in a circle)... my jaw is on the floor just thinking of the possibilities.

    In this case I decided we needed the simplest solution possible and since everyone can write in the Google Docs document (with or without Google account) I decided it was the best to begin with. I am very open to advancing up to a more advanced platform later on!