Health Information on the Web
Part of good patient care involves knowing where to find good medical or health information when you need it. We often look to the web for a quick reference on a particular topic. There are literally thousands of websites and blogs related to healthcare and medicine on the Internet. Many of these are valuable resources, but how do you know which ones have the best information, integrity and credentialing?
One way to tell is to look for an icon on the site displaying the HON code (Health on the Net Foundation). If the site is verified by this code, that means it has been reviewed and the site complies with the following rules...
• Authority – Credentialing of the author or moderator is clearly stated. The purpose of the site and those responsible for it are evident.
• Complementarity – The information on the site complements but does not replace the information and/or advice of any health professional.
• Confidentiality and privacy are respected.
• References and valid links to the medical information are provided.
• All posts and updates are dated.
• Users must post only information that is true and correct to the best of their knowledge.
• The rules for posting to the site or blog are clearly accessible on the site.
• Full disclosure of how the site is funded is clearly stated on the site.
• In addition, there will always be a valid email address or contact address where the author can be contacted for questions or further information.
If the healthcare site that you are viewing does not display the HON code icon, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a reliable site. It may mean that the site never applied for the code. If the logo is displayed, however, you at least know that the site is credentialed and follows the above guidelines.
A small toolbar icon for your browser can be downloaded from the HON site that will show you whether the page you are visiting is verified by the HON code.
This page was last updated on May 31, 2009.
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