Docgraph, an organisation that works to create, maintain, and improve open healthcare datasets, has released a browser extension that tracks clinical reference URLs visited by medical students when they study.
The Batea extension was built by DocGraph with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and, until its recent launch, Batea has been in private beta with medical students from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of Texas Houston.
The browser extension allows medical students to contribute clinically relevant portions of their browsing patterns to data scientists working with Wikipedia. The browsing data is recorded anonymously and is then combined with the data of other users to further protect the user’s identity. Users can stop recording the session at any time.
According to a 2014 study, Wikipedia is the single leading source of medical information for patients and healthcare professionals. Wikipedia’s 25,000 medical articles receive more than 200 million views per month and its 8000 pharmacology articles receive more than 40 million views per month.
“The Batea extension is a game-changer. More complete and accurate Wikipedia medical articles mean millions of Americans benefit from a better health resource for years to come,” said Senior Program Officer at RWJF, Michael Painter.
Medical students across the country are encouraged to download the Batea extension for use on their personal computers. Browsing histories will be aggregated monthly and shared with WikiProject Medicine to help direct future improvements to Wikipedia medical articles.
Batea will improve clinical Wikipedia articles by understanding how well they are working for a large group of clinically sophisticated users, especially medical students. By combining their browsing patterns, users will be able to better describe how well Wikipedia is disseminating clinical information as a whole.
Once the shortcomings are quantified and provided to current Wikipedia editors, the content of those articles will dramatically improve. This, in turn, will significantly raise the quality of clinical information available to everyone online.
Another feature of the Batea Extension is its Wikipedia Comment Form. Users can give feedback on any Wikipedia page by selecting text in an article and submit the Comment Form anonymously to the editors of Wikipedia.
“Via Wikipedia a medical student could communicate with more patients in medical school than in an entire career as a practising physician. With the Batea extension, the core community of medical editors will better understand how to improve Wikipedia’s medical content,” said former President of Wiki Project Med Foundation, Dr James Heilman.