The Wiki Way

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The department uses a collaboratively edited wiki to document its processes. The information is stored in a searchable, hyperlinked and categorized way to allow quick access, from the desk or mobile devices.

The wiki way

Any faculty or staff member can get an account to edit processes or ask questions. We know our people know their processes best, so we have replaced management-owned standard operating procedures with a documentation process that uses software facilitated change review to allow everyone to contribute to and understand the current best practices. Global edit rights mean that a document may be modified by a team member with a different perspective, who might work in a totally different corner of the department. Even if their contribution shows a misunderstanding of the processes or goals this is actually a success: if one person is on a different page there are probably others, and being aware of the misunderstanding then allows us to improve documentation (and quite possibly the process itself) and bring everyone closer to common ground.

To be sure, edits are fully logged and reversible. While honest errors are not sanctioned, the logging makes it possible to hold people accountable for malicious edits. The system notifies users when any pages in which they have marked an interest change, and it highlights the changed passages automatically.

As an additional benefit, the tagging of questions and concerns right in our documentation generates meta-data which effectively maps the gaps, tell us where improvement should focus, and tracks our progress over time.

Built-in annotation of the information allows the system to extract data, which is re-used across the entire body of documentation, limiting the effort to keep documents up-to-date. Semantic content annotation allows for querying of the content to re-use and aggregate documentation into other formats.

Our adoption of this philosophy is a reflection of our belief in breaking down silos and continuous improvement. We allow our processes and procedures to be public - if they are good there should be no reason not to be transparent about them, and if they are not good enough we would rather improve them than hide them.

Setup, support and maintenance

The department's Wiki Administrators have experience setting up and running wikis, their semantic and software infrastructure, and other web hosted applications. This in-house expertise allows for the integration of process analysis and quality improvement with sustainable documentation. Over the implementation of several wikis we have gained experience with available features and effective initial seeding and ongoing gardening of content. If you have a research or other project that could benefit, contact the Wiki Administrators.

What the wiki can do for you

How does the Wiki relate to the philosophy of the department?

The following department Values are directly reflected in our use of the wiki:

  • We treat each other with respect - We respect that our staff knows best what processes they use, so who better to document and improve them
  • We do what we say we do - Often documented procedures are not written by the people who use them. By having the actual doers of tasks write their own processes they are more likely to be consistent with what is actually done.
  • We hold each other accountable for what we do - Anyone can edit the wiki, but your name will be tagged to the change, and the changes will be visible in an automatic list of Recent Changes
  • We innovate and commit to continuous learning - The full use of a wiki in this manner had not been tried in any of our sister departments. Our department staff has learned the details of this tool and used the capabilities to find innovative solutions to some of our information storage.
  • We embrace change as an opportunity - If a change on the wiki is correct, then it's trivial that we all benefit from the correction of content. However, even if a change on the wiki is incorrect, we embrace this as an opportunity to become aware of misunderstandings and process problems and to fix them.

Why is our Wiki unique?


The data in this section is as of October 23, 2021.

How many people use the wiki?

The internal medicine wiki has 119 registered users, of which 17 are active users who have edited pages in the last 60 days.

How many pages does the wiki have?

The internal medicine wiki has 1,710 pages. Of these, 573 are pages about people in our department, and the rest are documenation about our programs and processes.

When did we start using the wiki?

We started using the department of internal medicine wiki in April 2017. We have several more mature wikis, the earliest of which has been active since June 2008.

For additional info on this wiki, see Special:Statistics and the other Special:SpecialPages.

Others using wikis in a health care, research or operational environment


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