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eMedicine is an online clinical medical knowledge base founded in 1996 by two medical doctors, Scott Plantz and Richard Lavely. The website is searchable by keyword and consists of approximately 6,800 articles, each of which is associated with one of 62 clinical subspecialty textbooks. Pediatrics, for example, consists of 14 subspecialty textbooks (endocrinology, genetics, cardiology, pulmonology, etc.). For example, 750 articles comprise the textbook on emergency medicine. Each article is authored by board certified specialists in the subspecialty to which the article belongs. The article's authors are identified with their current faculty appointments. Each article is updated yearly and the date is published on the article.
The site is free to use, requiring only registration. More than 10,000 contributors from several countries participated in the creation of the articles. It is operated as an e-book, the articles can be downloaded into a palm top device.
It was originally conceived in 1996 as an emergency medicine textbook but its content has expanded considerably since then to include allergy and immunology, cardiology, clinical procedures, critical care, dermatology, emergency medicine, endocrinology, gastroenterology. genomic medicine, hematology, infectious diseases, nephrology, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology, oncology, pathology, perioperative care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, pulmonology, radiology, rheumatology, and sports medicine. Surgical subspecialties include neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, (ENT) and facial plastic surgery, plastic surgery, thoracic surgery, transplantation, Trauma, urology, and vascular surgery. It is web-based.
Usage among specialists
In 2012 Volsky et al.  evaluated the most frequently used internet information sources by the public, (1) identifying the three most frequently referenced Internet sources; (2) comparing the content accuracy of each of the three sources and (3) ascertaining user-friendliness of each site; and (4) informing practitioners and patients of the quality of available information. They found Wikipedia, eMedicine, and NLM/NIH MedlinePlus were the most referenced sources. For content accuracy, eMedicine scored highest (84%; p<0.05) over MedlinePlus (49%) and Wikipedia (46%). The highest incidence of errors and omissions per article was found in Wikipedia (0.98±0.19), twice more than eMedicine (0.42±0.19; p<0.05). Errors were similar between MedlinePlus and both eMedicine and Wikipedia. On ratings for user interface, which incorporated Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Level and Flesch Reading Ease, MedlinePlus was the most user-friendly (4.3±0.29). This was nearly twice that of eMedicine (2.4±0.26) and slightly greater than Wikipedia (3.7±0.3). All differences were significant (p<0.05). There were 7 topics for which articles were not available on MedlinePlus. They concluded "Knowledge of the quality of available information on the Internet improves pediatric otolaryngologists' ability to counsel parents. The top web search results for pediatric otolaryngology diagnoses are Wikipedia, MedlinePlus, and eMedicine. Online information varies in quality, with a 46-84% concordance with current textbooks. eMedicine has the most accurate, comprehensive content and fewest errors, but is more challenging to read and navigate. Both Wikipedia and MedlinePlus have lower content accuracy and more errors, however MedlinePlus is simplest of all to read, at a 9th Grade level.
In 2012 Laraway and Rogers reported a structured review of journal articles that quoted The University of Washington Quality of Life Scale for head and neck cancer patients.
"The University of Washington Quality of Life Scale (UW-QoL) is one of the most frequently reported health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) questionnaires in head and neck cancer, and since its first publication in 1993 has been used in many different cohorts. There is a considerable amount of information to assimilate and, to date, we know of no attempt that has been made to summarise publications specific to its use in a peer review journal. The aim of this review was to systematically search published papers that report its use, identify common themes, and present a tabulated summary. Several search engines were used (PubMed, Medline, Medical-Journals.com, eMedicine), and 222 abstracts were found and hand searched. A total of 66 papers were eligible for inclusion, 21 on functional outcome, 25 on predictors of HR-QoL, 19 on development or validation of the questionnaire, and one clinical trial. The review includes a diversity of studies and a range of HR-QoL outcomes following head and neck cancer. It provides clinicians and their colleagues in multidisciplinary teams with a source of quick reference to relevant papers reporting the UW-QoL, and gives a short summary of the pertinent conclusions drawn from each paper."
What is significant for eMedicine, is that Laraway and Rogers used PubMed, Medline Medical Journals.com and eMedicine as primary sources of information. This is significant because medline is the compendium of all NIH sponsored research. Emedicine is made up of articles translating the body of current research in medline into clinical practice guidelines from the perspective of each subspeciality.
Cao, Liu, Simpson, et al revealed that medline and emedicine were used as primary resources in developing the online system AskHERMES. Physicians were asked to solve complex clinical problems using three different sources of information: AskHermes, Google and UpToDate. Surveys of the physicians who used all three systems were asked to score the three systems by ease of use, quality of answer, time spent, and overall performance.
A 2009 study showed that "89.1% of ophthalmologist respondents accessed peer-reviewed material online, including Emedicine (60.2%)."
In 2000 an article in the Journal of Ear Nose and Throat by AD Meyers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO, announced the unveiling of the ENT textbook online at emedicine.com.
- Meyers, AD (Apr 2000). "eMedicine Otolaryngology: an online textbook for ENT specialists.". Ear, nose, & throat journal. 79 (4): 268–71. PMID 10786388.
- Platt, AF (2008). Evidence-Based Medicine for PDAs: A Guide for Practice. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. pp. 80–82. ISBN 0-7637-5476-5.
- Volsky, PG; Baldassari, CM; Mushti, S; Derkay, CS (Sep 2012). "Quality of Internet information in pediatric otolaryngology: a comparison of three most referenced websites.". International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology. 76 (9): 1312–6. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2012.05.026. PMID 22770592.
- Laraway, D.C.; Rogers, S.N. (2012). "A structured review of journal articles reporting outcomes using the University of Washington Quality of Life Scale". British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 50 (2): 122–31. doi:10.1016/j.bjoms.2010.12.005. PMID 21239091.[non-primary source needed]
- Cao, Yonggang; Liu, Feifan; Simpson, Pippa; Antieau, Lamont; Bennett, Andrew; Cimino, James J.; Ely, John; Yu, Hong (2011). "AskHERMES: An online question answering system for complex clinical questions". Journal of Biomedical Informatics. 44 (2): 277–88. doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2011.01.004. PMC . PMID 21256977.[non-primary source needed]
- Somal, K; Lam, WC; Tam, E (2009). "Computer and internet use by ophthalmologists and trainees in an academic centre". Canadian journal of ophthalmology. Journal canadien d'ophtalmologie. 44 (3): 265–8. doi:10.3129/i09-057. PMID 19491979.
- Kitchin, Douglas R.; Applegate, Kimberly E. (2007). "Learning Radiology". Academic Radiology. 14 (9): 1113–20. doi:10.1016/j.acra.2007.06.002. PMID 17707320.
- Hargrave, D. R.; Hargrave, UA; Bouffet, E (2006). "Quality of health information on the Internet in pediatric neuro-oncology". Neuro-Oncology. 8 (2): 175–82. doi:10.1215/15228517-2005-008. PMC . PMID 16533758.
- Maibach, HI; Bashir SJ; McKibbon A (2002). Evidence-based dermatology. PMPH-USA. pp. 289–91. ISBN 1-55009-172-7.