Evaluation of a Health-Related Website
In July 1999, The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued the following advice to consumers who use the Internet for health-related information and services. ATA’s criteria for a quality site include the following (“Advisories” 2–3):
The site is sponsored by a reputable healthcare organization (American Cancer Society, American Medical Association, nationally recognized medical college, or the like). Information from a commercial interest such as a drug company should include assurances that the material is reasonable, balanced, and objective and does not merely promote the company’s own products.
Each information source is clearly documented.
A site providing online diagnosis or prescribing treatment and medication avoids any direct sales of the treatments or medications being prescribed.
The professionals offering medical consultation are fully licensed and their credentials are clearly posted.
The site clearly describes its policies and procedures for maintaining records of the consultation and safeguarding patient privacy.
Visit a health-related Website and evaluate it according to the above criteria. Focus on sites that cover alternative health such as as Alt Medicine, sites that create specific recommendations based on the information you provide such as WebMD, sites that offer specialized consultation about specific medical conditions such as HealthLine, or discussion sites for people with a specific medical condition such as the Cancer Survivors Network .