Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time telling people about xTimeline. xTimeline is a kind of multimedia wiki timeline-building tool. Let’s take a closer look at this.

What do timelines do? They track a process through time. You see them most often used in history and literature venues, but they have major potential for applications in health. There are a few examples of health or medical timelines already available in xTimeline, so far of the traditional sort of timeline.

xTimeline: Baby Development Timeline: http://www.xtimeline.com/science-tech/Baby-Development-Timeline

xTimeline: History of AIDS Epidemic: http://www.xtimeline.com/science-tech/History-of-AIDS

xTimeline: Modern Medical Discoveries post 1800: http://www.xtimeline.com/science-tech/Modern-Medical-Discoveries-post-1800-1

xTimeline: Pregnancy Timeline: http://www.xtimeline.com/science-tech/Pregnancy-Timeline


Now, think about all the other kinds of process-based information in health — growth & development, embryogenesis, disease progression, disease transmission, treatment planning, all kinds of things in public health and epidemiology, I could go on and on. I bet you could, too!

Imagine this.

You have a class, and the assignment is for the small group to report back on what they learned about how a particular condition is transmitted to a host and what is the normal progression of the untreated condition. The small group divides up tasks, and goes out hunting information and examples. One person creates timepoints in the timeline, another person adds a sound file of a cough to one timepoint, another person adds a video to a different timepoint showing the gait. The chief editor drafts some text to add to the timepoints, and the team members edit and refine the text, adding citations. They mark the timeline private, and notify the teacher it is shared with him/her. The teacher reviews the general timeline for coherence, then clicks on the timepoints, which break out the richer text and media files. The prof makes some suggestions, and after those are implemented, the timeline is changed from private to public and is now available to be used as a reference by other students in the class.

Sound interesting? Here’s another example.

The adult child caregiver of a long term care patient is trying to track trends in their parent’s condition. They go back through their notebook of doctor’s calls, and plot the last two years over time. They notice a general increase in frequency and severity. The caregiver marks the timeline private, but shares it with the rest of the family and the primary care clinician for their parent.

Or perhaps a newly-wed couple find themselves pregnant with their first child, and creates a timeline to track the progress of their pregnancy. They enrich the timepoints with pics and brief anecdotes.

I hope this whets your interest in exploring the potential of this tool for any kind of process oriented application, project or information that you might imagine.


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