We at MP Stat have reported before on tech-savvy physicians operating Web logs, but those physicians either assiduously avoided clinical content and used their blogs as psychological steam vents or presented Internet smorgasbords of personal and medical observations.
Michael Ostrovsky, M.D., and colleague Paul Geldard, M.D., see a higher calling for the readily accessible Web technology. The coeditors of a year-old blog, echojournal.org, are sponsoring a contest for the best clinical blogs. They have 24 blogs competing already; nominations will be accepted until Dec. 29. Online voting by the Web public will run from Jan. 3 through 16. Winners will be announced Jan. 18.
"Personally, I'm more interested in improving clinical blogs rather than opinion pieces," said Ostrovsky, a cardiac anesthesiologist at Seton Medical Center, Daly City, Calif.
Ostrovsky met Geldard when they both were working on a fellowship in cardiac anesthesiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, which Ostrovsky completed last summer. Geldard practices at Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, Australia. The two physicians have kept in contact via the Internet and by telephone, Ostrovsky said.
"I think it's the future of medical blogs," Ostrovsky said. "They're easy to set up. They're easy to disseminate information. They will help physicians report on their cases or enable physicians to receive information from other physicians."
Ostrovsky, 34, said he doesn't see blogs becoming a poor-man's clinical journal, but he does anticipate that blogs could create symbiotic relationships with journals to allow more participation in discussions following journal articles.
In addition to clinical blogs, Ostrovsky foresees blogs covering other aspects of medicine, including technology, ethics, biological sciences and clinical policies.
"Clinical policies come up as a result of consensus in society," he said. "Blogs are a way for discussion to lead to some consensus."
The competition will include six categories: best medical Web log, best new medical Web log (established in 2004), best clinical sciences Web log, best basic biological sciences Web log, best health policies/ethics Web log and best medical technologies Web log.
Ostrovsky, Geldard and Enoch Choi, M.D., a primary-care physician with Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Palo Alto, Calif., will oversee the competition.
Aside from gaining bragging rights, winners will be awarded a copy of the Atlas of Human Anatomy with CD-ROM by Frank Netter and a year's online subscription to either ACP Medicine or ACS Surgery from Medscape/WebMD.