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Physician IT

Asklepios attracts 3,000 MD registrants in first year

OTTAWA – Asklepios, the CMA’s social networking site for physicians that was launched in 2008, celebrated its first anniversary in August by registering more than 3,000 members.

“We’re only starting to get a handle on the potential this site has to offer,” Pat Rich, the CMA’s director of online content, said after speaking during the recent international Medicine 2.0 conference in Toronto.

Some of that potential became clear this summer, when Asklepios members posted more than 700 comments on issues that were to be debated during the CMA’s 2009 annual meeting in Saskatoon. “It’s safe to say that the volume and variety of activity on Asklepios to date has exceeded expectations,” Rich said.

Asklepios is the only site in Canada that allows MDs to exchange opinions and comments in a secure, physician-only environment. Registration at is free and takes less than a minute.

Rich said the site is now home to more than 90 groups dedicated to a wide range of professional and personal topics that have produced more than 2,000 postings. Hundreds more private messages have been exchanged between members.

In terms of numbers, a group dealing with electronic patient records is the most popular on the site, while another related group talking about iPhone applications for health is also attracting many members. But groups dealing with everything from astronomy to gastronomy, medical politics and economics, and specific medical school classes are all present on the site.

Asklepios was created as a platform for physicians and medical groups that wanted to make use of secure networking tools. It faced its first large-scale test in July in the pre-annual meeting forum hosted by CMA Board Chair Michael Golbey, and passed with flying colours.

In the weeks preceding the meeting, Golbey posted a series of five questions asking for input on policy issues facing the CMA. The response was heavy, with many physicians signing on to Asklepios so that they could participate in the online discussions.

“We’re beginning to realize how valuable Asklepios can be in launching discussions on issues physicians care about,” Golbey says. “It provides a way for doctors to network with one another and also lets us host physician-only ‘town-hall meetings,’ and do it in a totally secure online environment.”

Rich says new features are being developed that will allow members to initiate their own forums in the same way Golbey did, and to start blogs and conduct polls. Additional changes will allow members to invite non-Canadian physicians to participate in discussions.

Posted October 8, 2009