eMedicine is an online clinical medical knowledge base that was founded in 1996 by two medical doctors, Scott Plantz and Richard Lavely. The website is searchable by keyword and consists of approximately 6,800 articles, each of which is associated with one of 62 clinical subspecialty textbooks. Pediatrics, for example, consists of 14 subspecialty textbooks (endocrinology, genetics, cardiology, pulmonology, etc.). For example, 750 articles comprise the textbook on emergency medicine. Each article is authored by board certified specialists in the subspecialty to which the article belongs. The article's authors are identified with their current faculty appointments. Each article is updated yearly and the date is published on the article.
The site is free to use, requiring only registration. More than 10,000 contributors from several countries participated in the creation of the articles. It is operated as an e-book, the articles can be downloaded into a palm top device.
It was originally conceived in 1996 as an emergency medicine textbook but its content has expanded considerably since then to include allergy and immunology, cardiology, clinical procedures, critical care, dermatology, emergency medicine, endocrinology, gastroenterology. genomic medicine, hematology, infectious diseases, nephrology, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology, oncology, pathology, perioperative care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, pulmonology, radiology, rheumatology, and sports medicine. Surgical subspecialties include neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, (ENT) and facial plastic surgery, plastic surgery, thoracic surgery, transplantation, Trauma, urology, and vascular surgery. It is web-based.
In 2012 Volsky et al, evaluated the most frequently used internet information source by the public on the basis of (1) identify the three most frequently referenced Internet sources; (2) compare the content accuracy and (3) ascertain user-friendliness of each site; (4) inform practitioners and patients of the quality of available information. They found Wikipedia, eMedicine, and NLM/NIH MedlinePlus were the most referenced sources. For content accuracy, eMedicine scored highest (84%; p<0.05) over MedlinePlus (49%) and Wikipedia (46%). The highest incidence of errors and omissions per article was found in Wikipedia (0.98±0.19), twice more than eMedicine (0.42±0.19; p<0.05). Errors were similar between MedlinePlus and both eMedicine and Wikipedia. On ratings for user interface, which incorporated Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Level and Flesch Reading Ease, MedlinePlus was the most user-friendly (4.3±0.29). This was nearly twice that of eMedicine (2.4±0.26) and slightly greater than Wikipedia (3.7±0.3). All differences were significant (p<0.05). There were 7 topics for which articles were not available on MedlinePlus. They concluded "Knowledge of the quality of available information on the Internet improves pediatric otolaryngologists' ability to counsel parents. The top web search results for pediatric otolaryngology diagnoses are Wikipedia, MedlinePlus, and eMedicine. Online information varies in quality, with a 46-84% concordance with current textbooks. eMedicine has the most accurate, comprehensive content and fewest errors, but is more challenging to read and navigate. Both Wikipedia and MedlinePlus have lower content accuracy and more errors, however MedlinePlus is simplest of all to read, at a 9th Grade level.