What Is a Wiki?
Wiki software, a simple, yet powerful information-sharing tool, was proposed as a solution.
Shortened from the Hawaiian word for quickly (wikiwiki), wiki has also been described by the "
backronym" What I Know Is. Wiki software provides a framework for organizing a freely expandable
collection of hyperlinked pages. The software automatically indexes new pages, permitting a
powerful global search function. Wiki also tracks page edits and provides the ability to easily
roll back changes.
Because wikis are Web-based, they present little or no learning curve. To browse through a wiki,
you click links, just as you would if browsing the Internet, and you can search the wiki, just
like you might perform a search using Google.com. Using a wiki is very intuitive for anyone who
has surfed the Web. Wikis are also cheap, extensible, and easy to implement, and they do not
require a massive software rollout.
There are nearly 200 different wiki software packages available. We chose Notebook, a PC-based
program, because it is non-commercial and open-source, and does not require a Web server. No
special installation is necessary; we simply dropped Notebook into a folder on the hospital
intranet, and gave all of our pharmacists access to it. All wiki software is based on the premise
of simplicity, with no special skills required to use it. Notebook follows this principle, and
it is incredibly easy to browse, search, and edit topics.
Putting the Wiki to Work
We seeded the original wiki with four main topics: Clinical Pearls, Formulary, IV Admixture Tips,
and Whats New. Subtopics under the formulary page included: automatic therapeutic interchanges,
recommended therapeutic interchanges, restricted drugs, and drugs requiring special monitoring.
The Whats New topic is an automatic log page. To edit today's entry, or to create an entry for
today, just click on "Edit Today's Entry". In the ensuing two years, our pharmacy wiki has grown
to over 200 pages, with topics as diverse as Pyxis information, order entry tips, tray times,
currently unavailable/backordered drugs, and a telephone directory.
One unique aspect of wiki software, and one important key to the wiki solution, is open co
-authoring; anyone can edit anything. The offshoot of this principle is that staff members do not
need permission to be helpful; anyone can contribute to the shared knowledge base. Two pharmacy
staff members regularly review the entries and make sure the information posted is correct, but
we do not stifle input, or dress someone down for making a mistake; we just correct it and go on.
Because of this, the staff has taken ownership of our wiki, drawing from the knowledge and
experience of the pharmacists working in the trenches.
Wikis can also link to external documents, such as Web pages and intranet documents. One page
in our wiki consists of links to helpful Web resources for pharmacists. We also added links to
frequently visited hospital standards on the intranet. We have found that it is much faster to
find these standards in our wiki than it is to search the hospital intranet.
Our wiki is has become a resource for practical information a central repository of those
bits and pieces of information that pharmacists need to have at our fingertips. Wiki software
gave us the tool we needed to capture and preserved our shared knowledge base.
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