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Quality of Medical Information Online: A Twitter Discussion

I had a nice discussion today with a few Twitterers including Jay Parkinson about the quality of online medical information. It started when I mentioned many great medical blogs are not accredited by HONcode, the Health On The Net Foundation, which is a non-profit organization with a mission to improve online health information quality. I try to summerize the keypoints of the discussion.












Then I found a publication, Indicators of Accuracy of Consumer Health Information on the Internet that states:

One hundred Web pages were identified and characterized as “more accurate” or “less accurate.” Three indicators correlated with accuracy: displaying the HONcode logo, having an organization domain, and displaying a copyright. Many proposed indicators taken from published guidelines did not correlate with accuracy (e.g., the author being identified and the author having medical credentials) or inaccuracy (e.g., lack of currency and advertising).

I believe patients seeking medical information online need guidance. Regarding tech blogs or art blogs, it doesn’t really matter who determines quality. But in the medical blogosphere, I think it’s crucial to have a neutral third party that works to assure quality and try to help patients how to find reliable content. So the conclusion is I’ll keep on promoting HONcode and will try to get all of my medical sites accredited (Scienceroll and Webicina are both accredited).

Further reading:

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. We hope that savvy members of the public as well as doctors will come to rely on for medical searches. It’s more comprehensive than PubMed, but much more targeted than Google.

    Every source that SearchMedica crawls has been vetted by a medical specialist. It’s designed by doctors for doctors, but feedback suggests that members of the public are coming in too. The content can be filtered by information category, and “Patient Education,” like the rest, contains only content that the relevant specialists have approved for authority.

    SearchMedica was judged among the top ten health search engines on two separate lists in 2008.

    Full disclosure: I’m the content manager for the site. It is founded by a medical publishing company and supported by pharmaceutical advertising, but does not crawl manufacturer sites and advertisers have no influence whatever on searches. SearchMedica crawls all the medical literature and gives no preference to its founder’s publications. The only factors that influence searches are the quality of the content and relevance to the query.

    January 23, 2009
  2. Great article. I agree with HONcode. I am currently in the process of getting accredited by them. Keep up the good work

    January 26, 2009

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