Web 2.0 for Emergency Physicians

This post recently featured in a perspectives article in the Annals of Emergency Medicine:

Berger E. Web 2.0 in Emergency Medicine: Specialty Embracing the Future of Medical Communication. Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Apr;59(4)A21-23

What is Web 2.0 for Emergency Physicians?

Even though “the times they are a changing“, many Emergency Physicians are unfamiliar with the concept of Web 2.0, the diversity of Web 2.0 resources, and how to use these resources to enhance their clinical practice and professional development.

This guide addresses these issues so that Emergency Physicians won’t be afraid to take a ride on the ‘Web 2.0 roller coaster‘! (You might like to brush up on some Basic Web Definitions as well).

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is a nebulous term referring to the current era of web development and design that, according to Wikipedia, is characterized by information sharing, collaboration, and interoperability. Web 2.0 changes the way we access, store, and receive information. The Web, rather than the desktop computer, has become the platform that matters. Web 2.0 resources provide us with boundless information that is:

  • Rapidly accessible anytime, from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Current and continuously updated
  • Dynamic and interactive
  • Created collaboratively
  • Easily stored, shared, and modified

Many of us are using Web 2.0 in our everyday lives already. Have you ever read a blog (that would have to be a yes…), or used a popular website such as Wikpedia, Facebook, Youtube or Flickr, or do you have a Google account? Then you have used a Web 2.0 resource.

Web 2.0 in under 5 minutes – ‘The Machine is Us/ing Us’ by Michael Wesch:

How does Web 2.0 compare with Web 1.0?

Here are some differences between Web 1.0 (a backronym) and Web 2.0:

web 1.0 v web 2.0
Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0

Why use Web 2.0?

Emergency physicians, and doctors, in general, are constantly communicating with one another about medicine whether formally (journals, conferences, meetings, CME sessions, etc) or informally (on the floor, during breaks, online, at home, etc). Because of this, Web 2.0, which epitomizes constant communication, is a natural tool for doctors to use.

According to Pat Croskerry, the environment that emergency physicians work in is a ‘Perfect Storm” for medical error. We work in a time-critical, information limited, pressure cooker environment. To thrive and survive we need to constantly maintain and grow our foreground knowledge (used for ‘flesh and blood’ decision making to care for our patients and solve clinical problems) as well as our background knowledge (the core content and basic sciences that we need to understand the language of medicine, to teach, and to pass exams).


We need to know a lot, we need to know it now, and often we don’t know what we need to know until we need to know it… Where can we turn?

Web 2.0 of course — you don’t want to be stuck using old textbooks chained to the desk for the rest of your career do you?

iPhone vs books

What can Web 2.0 be used for?

Emergency Physicians can use Web 2.0 for:

  • Searching and sourcing information
  • Sorting, saving and storing information
  • Staying up-to-date
  • Sharing information
  • Social networking

Do you use Web 2.0 for clinical decision making?

What are Web 2.0 Resources?

There are a diverse range of Web 2.0 resources relevant to Emergency Physicians and which can impact on our daily practice.

These include:


Won’t all this lead to information overload?

Not if you use it right, in fact Web 2.0 tools can help save you from information overload.

Further reading

From the ‘mainstream’ published literature:

Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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