Patients wanting to learn about their illness used to search high and low for a few drops of patient-centered information. The dilemma for modern patients has become how to sort through the flood of information available on the Internet.
HON certification can help.
HON stands for "Health on the Net." According to the non-governmental organization Health on the Net Foundation, the mechanism for certifying websites was introduced "to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals, and to facilitate access to the latest and most relevant medical data."
Patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and web producers today can rely on the HON code of ethical principles that includes:
- Authority: qualifications of website's authors that make them authorities
- Complementarity: website's information is to help support - and not replace -- clinicians' advice.
- Confidentiality: website respects privacy of users
- Attribution: website cites the sources and dates of medical information
- Justifiability: website authors can back all claims
- Transparency: website provides valid contact information that opens access
- Financial disclosure: website declares source of funding
- Advertising: website clearly distinguishes editorial from advertising content
HON certification doesn't guarantee the accuracy of information, since all sites can't be rechecked every day. But it offers some reassurance that the site has made efforts to provide quality information.
Healthy Survivors who use the Internet check for HON certification by
- pumping the site's url in the HON toolbar and/or
- looking for the HON logo