Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, May 03, 2007

WHO converts a disease database to a wiki

WHO adopts Wikipedia approach for key update, CBC News, May 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

If the collaborative wiki process works for compiling an encyclopedia, couldn't the same approach work for classifying all the diseases and injuries that afflict humankind? The World Health Organization thinks it can.

It is embarking on one of its periodic updates of a system of medical coding called the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, and it wants the world's help doing it.

While work on previous versions has been the domain of hand-picked experts, this time the Geneva-based global health agency is throwing open its portal to anyone who wants to weigh in on the revision....

The new, more open approach to updating the disease classifications won't be entirely wiki-esque. That process, with its anyone-can-edit approach, builds a degree of vulnerability into the end product, with some contributors deliberately planting false information for the fun of it.

With the ICD, people can propose changes and argue for them on a WHO-sponsored blog. But groups of subject matter experts will weigh and synthesize the suggestions, said [Robert Jakob, the WHO medical officer responsible for the ICD]....

Update. For background, see the March 2007 WHO report, Production of ICD-11: The overall revision process. (Thanks to Ben Toth.)