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As people return to work with New Year Resolutions of better health, many will be searching for accessible health information online.
Producing high quality health information involves a long process with essential checks and balances which are needed to avoid the pitfalls of the unofficial health sites which proliferate the internet. Information consumers may not just be patients; there may be many interested parties who will consume health information for a variety of purposes from research to the support of a patient. The challenge of a commercial health information website is the balance between meeting the needs of the consumer and a return on investment.
Non-commercial organisations know that their reputation is at stake when they delve into the online world of health information provision. We are currently working with the Society for Endocrinology to develop content for their public website which will be launched in the next couple of months. Their recognition of the need to provide trustworthy endocrine information is timely. What speaks of their professional integrity is their use of global experts to provide the original content underpinned by rigorous peer reviewing.
Health information consumers need a sort of expert health ‘companion’, not necessarily all wrapped up in one website. On the one hand a provider of safe, reliable information; on the other a place to have dialogue about what they’ve read online. Well-written health information can stimulate dialogue and empower the consumer. Based on accurate information, dialogue can, as Mark says, “fuel productive physician-patient interactions”. Social media is well placed to provide this.
Published 10th January, 2011