Practice groups guide

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Revision as of 15:02, 8 September 2022 by Chris Rishel (talk | contribs) (Added section about subpages)
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WikiAnesthesia offers special functionality called practice groups to provide institutions with a centralized repository to store and organize information relevant to their practice using wiki articles.


  • Practice groups allow a group of practitioners to flexibly share information on WikiAnesthesia
  • Practice groups can create their own wiki articles which are independent from the public article repository
    • Practice group articles can be linked to a public topic, which allows their users to seamlessly switch between general public information, and detailed institution-specific information
  • Practice groups can configure group's membership policy and privacy settings to match their institution's requirements
    • Groups can range from completely public to completely private with membership by invitation only
  • Some examples of materials which are commonly stored within practice groups include:
    • Case protocols
    • Clinical primers
    • ERAS protocols
    • Policies and procedures
    • Residency materials
    • Surgeon preferences
  • A list of the current practice groups can be found on the practice groups page

Creating and configuring a new practice group

Any user with at least "author" access can create a new practice group from the practice groups page. If you do not have "author" access and want to create a practice group, feel free to contact us to make special arrangements. This limitation is put in place to prevent vandalism, but is not meant to be a barrier to exploring this feature for your institution.


Practice groups must have unique "full" and "short" names.

  • Full names should use the complete name of the group's organization (e.g. "Stanford University", "Massachusetts General Hospital").
  • Short names are used throughout the site to identify practice group content, and should be 25 characters or less to be compatible with the site's design. It is encouraged to limit short names to one or two words, abbreviations, and/or acronyms (e.g. "Stanford", "MGH").


Practice groups can define a primary and secondary color, which will be used when indicating practice group content throughout the site.

Article Settings

  • Should practice group articles preserve linkage to similar public articles when possible?
    • If yes, when a public article is renamed that has a matching practice group article, the practice group article will be renamed to match the new public title.
    • This is highly recommended, as it will ensure that relevant public content always remains easily accessible from practice group articles and in most circumstances will not have negative effects.
      • A redirect from the old title to the new title will be created to preserve the functionality of any links to the article.
      • However, if other practice group articles link to the renamed title, those links will need to be manually updated to target the new title.

Privacy and security settings

Practice groups offer substantial flexibility to configure the privacy and membership policy. These configuration options include:

  • Can the content of this practice group be viewed by non-members?
    • If yes, any registered user of the wiki will be able to view the practice group and its articles. Choose this option if you would like to share your group's specific practices and institutional knowledge with the community. If you plan to store potentially sensitive information in your practice group's articles, you should not select this option.
    • Note: Non-members will never be able to change any of the practice group's content regardless of this setting.
  • Is membership to this practice group open to the public?
    • If yes, any registered user of the wiki will be able to join this practice group without restriction.

The following options are only relevant if membership is not open to the public:

  • Can any active member of this practice group add new members?
    • If yes, any active member of the practice group can invite users and manage requests to join this practice group. If no, only administrators of the practice group can add new members and manage membership requests.
  • Can users request to join this practice group?
    • If yes, any registered user of the wiki can request to join this practice group. Pending users will not be able to access this practice group's content until their request is approved.
  • Can users automatically join this practice group if they have an affiliated email address?
    • If yes, users who confirm an email address with a domain from a specified list will be able to join this practice group without manual approval.
    • Important: While this option offers convenient automated membership management, note that anyone with an affiliated email address will be able to join this group without restriction. This may include individuals well outside the scope of your practice group (e.g. students, staff, faculty from other departments). Thus, you should carefully consider how sensitive your practice group's private content may be before selecting this option.

Using a practice group

Membership management

Depending on a group's configuration, membership may be fully open, require approval from a group member or administrator, or may be invitation only. The "membership" tab of the practice group lists any pending requests, allows the invitation of new users (either by WikiAnesthesia username or email address), and shows a list of the current group members.

Practice group dashboard

When a practice group is created, a dashboard will be automatically created. This page can be edited just like any other article, and provides a centralized location to store and organize very commonly accessed resources and information. Some potential uses include:

  • Links to call schedules, paging systems, etc.
  • Journal access portals
  • Important phone numbers

Practice group articles

Practice groups can create their own wiki articles. Depending on the privacy settings of the group, these can be made completely private so that only members of the practice group may view or edit them. Practice group articles are organized within a single collection and are also searchable using the main search of the site.

If an article stores detailed institution-specific information about a topic that is broadly covered by a public article with the same title, users of a practice group can seamlessly switch between the public and practice group articles on a topic using tabs above the content of either the public or practice group articles. For example:

  • The public article for liver transplant will contain information generally relevant to all practitioners
  • A liver transplant practice group article might include very detailed information about exactly how to perform the case at their institution, such as surgeon preferences or operative practices, how to organize the room, exactly what drugs to have available, how to organize lines, infusions, etc.

Practice group articles may also store information about topics not generally covered by a public article on the site. Some examples include: resident rotation orientations, ERAS protocols, institution policies, etc.

Creating a new practice group article

Practice group articles can be created from the "Articles" tab of the practice group's page.

Organizing practice group articles

One major way to organize practice group articles is to use the “subpages” feature. Subpages allow a set of articles to be grouped under one parent article title, which functions somewhat similarly to files within a folder. This can be useful to group articles with similar relevance (e.g. subspecialty materials, site-specific resources).

  • Subpages are automatically created when an article title contains a forward slash (“/“), with the parent article title to the left is the slash and the subpage title to the right.
    • E.g. Creating a practice group article with the title “Resident rotations/Cardiac” would create a parent article “Resident rotations” which contained a subpage called “Cardiac”.
  • Subpages can be nested indefinitely to have multiple levels of organization.
    • E.g. “Resident rotations/Cardiac/Operating room setup”

Limitations in security and privacy

While practice groups can be configured to make articles private in most circumstances, there are several important caveats outlined below. Furthermore, the underlying platform that powers WikiAnesthesia (MediaWiki) is fundamentally not designed as a secure cloud storage service, and thus highly sensitive content should never be stored in any part of WikiAnesthesia.


For practice groups configured to be private:

  • The contents of articles are not accessible to non-members of the group.
  • The titles of private articles will also generally not be visible to non-members (i.e. in search results, visual editor tools, etc.).
    • However, sensitive information should not be put in article titles, as these may appear in certain internal reports generated by the MediaWiki software.

Uploaded files

Unlike articles contained within a practice group, any files uploaded to WikiAnesthesia using either the site's upload page or the uploading widget in Visual Editor are not secured and should be assumed to be publicly accessible regardless of the group's security configuration. Therefore, it is imperative to avoid uploading any files to WikiAnesthesia which contain content that should not be publicly accessible.

  • For files with secure content: Upload the file to an existing secure cloud storage solution and use an external link in the practice group article.