The objective of dropboxmd.com is to provide a collaborative space for physicians and medical trainees in Ontario. This website provides a platform for both storing and sharing resources that physicians use in their practice whether it relates to practice management, medical learning, local workflows or billing information. This website has been developed to allow users to directly add to the platform, as well as to provide ratings about the resources that others have shared. The site is intended to provide an easily accessible method for medical professionals to collaborate with colleagues, reduce the segregation of medical information and prevent the duplication of work. This website also works towards creating more equitable access to resources by being free to use and accessible from any internet-connected device.
The intended audience of dropboxmd.com is physicians and medical trainees. The learning resources are divided by medical specialty and there is a specific section for medical students.
The amount of medical information required to practice medicine has increased to the extent that physicians need to outsource information storage to technology. However, the electronic resources where this information can be found is spread across multiple platforms, websites, organizations and personal repositories. There is currently no widely used platform designed to collaboratively collect and share resources amongst Canadian physicians, and this both limits resource exposure and their potential benefits to patients. Dropboxmd.com was created out of this need.
This resource was created by Dr. Cody Jackson who is a practicing family physician in London, Ontario and an adjunct professor at the Schulich School of Medicine. This website was initially created because Dr. Jackson realized that many of his mentors had accumulated essential resources that he wanted to access. Consequently, he created Dropboxmd.com as an online storage of these resources that he, his trainees and his colleagues could add to and benefit from.
What does the research say?
There is evidence in the literature that medical professionals widely believe that sharing resources has benefits when used for clinical learning (Bullock, 2013; Maloney et al., 2013). In addition to this, there is also evidence that when resources are shared amongst physicians, they may perform better on clinical examinations (Chan et al., 2015).
Physicians and medical trainees currently use a wide variety of electronic platforms for clinical learning such as social medial forums (Facebook, Twitter), podcasts, file-sharing software (Dropbox, Google Drive), electronic textbooks, clinical decision-making smartphone apps and wikis (Purdy et al., 2015). Some of these platforms have a mechanism for resource sharing, but none of them are specifically designed for this purpose.
The perceived barriers to the sharing of learning resources include fear of lack of credit, copyright concerns, lack of trust in resource quality and personal malalignment with the motivations of the sharing platform (Lin et al., 2016; Maloney et al., 2013). Fortunately, Dropboxmd.com has worked to mitigate these ownership and copyright concerns by promoting website link sharing. This link sharing results in users being sent directly to the hosts of these resources, which increases traffic to the original creators. There is also evidence that when users are able to rate/comment on resources (like on Dropboxmd.com and Twitter), the reliability of the information being shared may increase as users can create a community of fact-checking (Choo et al., 2014).
One aspect of these collaborative resource-sharing platforms, such as social media websites, is that users can form location-independent communities of practice. These communities of practice allow physicians to connect with each other to provide clinical and professional advice. A study by Roll et al. (2016) provided evidence that many physicians view these communities as trusted sources of information.
Wolfbrink et al. (2014) outline the development and study of a platform with similar objectives to Dropboxmd.com. This created platform was designed for pediatric critical care clinicians worldwide. Over 400 users were surveyed and 52% of responders stated that they used the platform at least weekly to obtain information and the majority of users endorsed that they found the platform to be beneficial to their practice of medicine.
A platform for the specific purpose of resource sharing should be developed for physicians and medical trainees
Physicians and medical learners should be encouraged to join a community of practice that integrates the sharing of resources
Users should be encouraged to actively contribute to these communities of practice for both personal and community benefit
Educators should introduce the subject of resource sharing with medical trainees and the platforms with this functionality
Bullock, A. (2013). Does technology help doctors to access, use and share knowledge? Medical Education. 48: 28–33 doi:10.1111/medu.12378.
Chan, T., Sennik, S., Zaki, A., Trotter, B. (2015). Studying with the cloud: the use of online Web based resources to augment a traditional study group format. Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. 17(2) 192-195. DOI 10.2310/8000.2014.141425.
Choo, E. K., Ranney, M. L., Chan, T. M., Trueger, N. S., Walsh, A. E., Tegtmeyer, K., Carroll, C. L. (2014). Twitter as a tool for communication and knowledge exchange in academic medicine: A guide for skeptics and novices. Medical Teacher, 37(5), 411–416. https://doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2014.993371.
Lin, T. C., Lai, M. C., & Yang, S. W. (2016). Factors influencing physicians’ knowledge sharing on web medical forums. Health Informatics Journal, 22(3), 594–607. https://doi.org/10.1177/1460458215576229.
Maloney, S., Moss, A., Keating, J., Kotsanas, G., & Morgan, P. (2013). Sharing teaching and learning resources: Perceptions of a university’s faculty members. Medical Education, 47(8), 811–819. doi: 10.1111/medu.12225.
Purdy, E., Thoma, B., Bednarczyk, J., Migneault, D., & Sherbino, J. (2015). The use of free online educational resources by Canadian emergency medicine residents and program Testing directors. Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, 17(2), 101–106. https://doi.org/10.1017/cem.2014.73.
Rolls, K., Hansen, M., Jackson, D., & Elliott, D. (2016). How Health Care Professionals Use Social Media to Create Virtual Communities: An Integrative Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18 (6): e166. doi. 10.2196/jmir.5312:10.2196/jmir.5312.
Seo, K., & Han, Y. (2013). Online teacher collaboration: A case study of voluntary collaboration in a teacher-created online community. Journal of Educational Policy, 10(2), 221–242.