“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant” — Mitchell Kapor
Information is power and patients are becoming more empowered through increasing access to medical information online. However, one of the biggest challenges we face is trying to filter the vast repository of online content to find trustworthy content.
A major challenge now is separating the wheat from the chaff, being able to identify the many resources on the Internet that are not reliable and recognize those that are reputable sources of consistently high-quality medical and health information.”
Instead of more information what we really need is more accessible, understandable, and credible information on which to base our healthcare decision-making.
One solution is to curate reliable, up-to-date medical information in a format that is easy for patients to access, digest, and understand.
Content curation is defined as the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest.
While this definition sounds simple, there’s a world of difference between simply gathering information and being an effective curator.
A good curator knows how to find, aggregate, and synthesize reliable information, putting it into context for their communities and sharing it in a format that is easy to access and understand. Beth Kanter,  a specialist in social media communication for non-profit organizations, characterizes a content curator as someone “who offers high value to anyone looking for quality content because finding that information (and making sense of it) requires more and more time, attention, and focus.”
Health science blogger, Lisa DeFerrari  devotes time on her blog to sharing the latest research on breast cancer. Lisa describes the activity as one in which she shares her own learning process with readers, “I felt that this was an area where I could contribute given my own experience with breast cancer and my advocacy work as well as my interest in research. I look for updates that seem interesting and relevant from a patient perspective and share what I see as the basic, need to know, details for my readers.”
Mayo Clinic-trained women’s heart health activist and heart attack survivor, Carolyn Thomas  was once described by cardiology conference organizers as a ‘knowledge translator’. “I love that job description,” she says, “I like trying to make sense of complex medical gobbledygook. There actually is a social science readability rating scale called “SMOG: a Simple Measure of GobbledyGook!” — one that most medical journals would fail, by the way.”
The ability to curate trusted content is a key skill for patient advocates. Hereditary cancer advocate, Amy Byer Shainman believes “patient advocates not only have a responsibility to curate trusted content but that it is an imperative if you are even going to be calling yourself a patient advocate.”
Further Reading: 10 Golden Rules of Content Curation