Fam Pract Manag. 2001 Apr;8(4):10.
People are always marveling (or complaining) about the inconceivable amount of stuff available on the Internet. As Mindi McKenna, PhD, says in this issue, physicians are more likely to use the Internet for personal than for professional purposes, in large measure because identifying and keeping track of the really useful sites is an enormous challenge (see page 23). The World Wide Web is just too wide.
I invite you to imagine a somewhat less wide Web – one just wide enough to contain the best the Internet has to offer you in your role as a family physician. It would contain everything from disease-specific clinical sites to eCommerce sites offering medical supplies and from sources of evidence-based guidelines to patient education sites and coding references. But it wouldn't contain celebrity Web sites, Beanie Baby sites, horoscope sites, gambling sites, trivia sites, online gift shops, karaoke sites, or “Dungeons and Dragons” sites. In fact, it would exclude far more of the Web than it would include. And what it includes would be authoritative, accessible and useful to you and your patients.
Now, please imagine that this “World Wide Family Practice Web” is organized and categorized to make things easy to find. Imagine further that each site is peer reviewed, rated and ranked by family physicians and for family physicians. You do have to imagine it now, because it doesn't exist yet – but how would you like to have a hand in building it?
The Family Practice Web
Yes, it's a big job, especially given the rate at which the Web changes. But Family Practice Management is leading an AAFP project to develop what we're tentatively calling “The Family Practice Web.” The components of the project include the following:
A categorized directory of links to as many as several hundred useful Web sites, both clinical and nonclinical, which will be maintained on www.aafp.org, the flagship Web site of the AAFP.
A large panel of peer reviewers, all family physicians. (That's where you come in.)
A rating system designed to help the reviewers rate Web sites for their authoritativeness, accessibility and usefulness in family practice.
An arrangement for submitting reviews online, making the reviewers' job easier while minimizing the delay in posting reviews online.
To rate hundreds of sites, we need a number of enthusiastic reviewers to do the rating.
The review crew
That's why I hope I can interest you in helping construct this new resource. The work shouldn't be onerous, and it would expose you to online resources you may not know about. You would be asked to review selected Web sites mostly in areas of interest to you – perhaps as many as two per month. That would entail visiting the site, trying out what it has to offer and completing an online evaluation questionnaire.
What does it take to be a Web site reviewer? First, some things that are not required:
You don't need to be a Web whiz.
You don't have to have an academic appointment.
You don't need expertise in a particular area of clinical knowledge.
On the other hand, you do need convenient access to the Internet and at least a little experience with browsing the Web, using search engines and visiting medical Web sites. You also need your own e-mail address, since most communications concerning review assignments will be sent electronically. Perhaps most important, you need to be spending enough of your time in direct patient care to be able to relate what Web sites offer to the needs of the typical practicing family physician.
We hope to enlist reviewers in April and May with an eye to beginning the review process in May or June. After that, the Family Practice Web will grow apace. Our goal is to review as many as 150 Web sites a year for the next four years, while re-reviewing every site every six months or so. As I said, it's a big job. But many reviewers make light work. If you would like to join the review panel or just find out more, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!
Robert Edsall is editor-in-chief of Family Practice Management.
Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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