Google announced yesterday that it is giving up on its vision to help people access their health and wellness information online . The internet search giant will discontinue Google Health at the end of the year.
Health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions . Health literacy is important because it affects a individual’s ability to manage personal health: to navigate the healthcare system, share health history with healthcare providers, engage in self-care and manage chronic disease, and understand concepts such as probability and risk.
Health On the Net (HON) Foundation, the non-profit organization that oversees the HONcode, the oldest and most widely used ethical and trustworthy code for medical- and health-related information on the Internet, recently launched a new and improved certificate for medical and health web sites . The new certificate is an initiative to further enhance the HONcode certification system and to encourage health and medical information seekers to be more critical when searching for information online. It is also intended to advance the ethical use and promotion of health and medical data among online information providers.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61% of adults look online for health information . Surprisingly however, three-quarters of those searching don’t consistently check the source and date of the health reference they find . Indeed, searching for health information online is dangerous and finding credible, up-to-date sources of health information can be a challenge.
Wikipedia is the Web’s most popular free online encyclopedia. If you’ve ever searched for health or medical content online, Wikipedia articles typically appear at or near the top of search engine results. Nevertheless, Wikipedia’s medical entries are prone to manipulation and are not reliable . Moreover, in many cases you don’t know who has contributed content nor their background or expertise.
Wisdom of crowds is the new model for innovation on the Internet in which collective knowledge is thought to be superior to the intelligence of the few. Nevertheless, not all crowds are wise. Recent cases and new research suggests that crowdsourcing is only truly successful when it is focused on a specific task and when the most effective collaborators are involved .
The Medpedia Project is a long-term, worldwide initiative to develop an online collaborative source of health and medical information for medical professionals and the general public. A joint effort with Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, Berkeley School of Public Health, University of Michigan Medical School and other global health organizations, the intent of Medpedia is to be a repository of up-to-date unbiased medical information, contributed and maintained by health experts around the world and freely available to the general public. Unlike Wikipedia, which allows anyone to modify pages, Medpedia content creators and editors are required to have an M.D., D.O. or Ph.D. in a biomedical field; each contributor has an author page detailing their qualifications and background.