PeerClip: Social Bookmarking for Healthcare Providers

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PeerClip is a new social bookmarking service introduced at the Health 2.0 conference. The best example of a social bookmarking site on the web is del.icio.us, which I wrote about previously:
One of the most useful sites on the web is del.icio.us. (Yes, it's a pun; you type it in exactly like that.) In case you've not heard of it, del.icio.us is one of the best social bookmarking sites on the web. When you "bookmark" a web page in your browser, you're saving the link for future reference. Bookmarking a website on del.icio.us is similar, with a few major differences. First, other users can look at and subscribe to your bookmarks, and you can look at other users' bookmarks. You can also get a sense of the importance and popularity of a site by how many people have bookmarked it.

Second, you can apply "tags," which are labels, to each site. For example, you might bookmark the site healthline.com with the tags "health," "medicalinformation," "search," and "medicalblogs." You can then search or sort using tags. Bookmarks can be easily saved by using extensions for the firefox or internet explorer browsers.

Once you start using del.icio.us, it becomes your portable online filing system for the web. For health-related information in particular, del.icio.us can be used to tag and file away journal articles, health-related websites, news articles, and anything else you can think of that you might need for future reference.
Peerclip is similar to del.icio.us, but with important differences. First, it's open only to health care providers -- physicians, nurse practitioners, and physicians assistants. This ensure that all the sites bookmarked on Peerclip are related to medicine. Second, articles can be rated for quality. Third, you can form your own online networks of peers (in a specific specialty, for example).

This is a description from the PeerClip website:
Using PeerClip’s “research assistant” tool that integrates easily into any Web browser, physicians can “bookmark” any type content, including journal articles, blogs, podcasts and videos. Bookmarks are conveniently stored online for easy access in a central location, creating a personal homepage of relevant medical information. Physicians also can organize, keyword tag, rate and share bookmarks.

The PeerClip “research assistant” also provides physicians with at-a-glance information on articles that their peers have tagged and rated as useful. The combined ratings and tagging of all physicians helps the PeerClip member quickly find the information he or she is looking for. Additionally, the PeerClip “research assistant” also recommends other relevant information based on the member’s profile and interests. The simple act of member participation guides the recommendations as well as the member’s discovery while browsing.

Physicians also can invite peers to join the network as well as create personal online peer networks in order to track future bookmarks and comments by peers or Key Opinion Leaders across the PeerClip community.
It's a promising idea, but the problem with most social networking sites is that they require a certain critical mass of users in order to be useful. The reason del.icio.us has succeeded is that it has one million registered users -- most of whom, of course, are in technology-related fields and not in medicine. If PeerClip can achieve a critical mass of users in the medical professions, it would become a valuable service.
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About the Author


MD, FACP, FASN

Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.

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