Understanding the Balance Between Credibility and Accessibility on the Internet
According to a 2009 BurstMedia survey, nine out of 10 women go online to research health information. I know my days of picking up the Mayo Clinic’s gazillion pound book to research my symptoms are over. What’s great about the Internet, is that you literally have the world at your fingertips. It’s digging through the information, what matters the most.
Something to keep in mind is the credibility of the website. I have a friend who tends to believe everything she reads on the Internet. She literally said, “well it must be true, it’s on the Internet.” I was surprised that she bought into that philosophy. Actually, that’s the beauty of the Internet, anyone can self-publish, just like we do with SheTaxi. However, “reader beware”, not all sites are credible and offer valued information.
When researching health-related topics, refer to sites from notable health resources, like the “Mayo Clinic” or “Johns Hopkins” for information. Additionally, you probably live in a community that has a reputable health provider, that’s another option for you to find information. Also, most health insurance companies have websites with information on well-being for you to use as a guide without the need of paying a penny.
Another thing to keep in mind is, pay attention to whether the website has a seal of approval. That means the site has been approved by organizations that have quality measures for the healthcare industry. Some of the notable organizations are “Health on the Net” (HON), which guarantees that a website complies with and pledges to honor the HON code of conduct. Also, the URAC requires the site to operate in a manner consistent with national healthcare standards.
If you go to a site that requires you to submit information on yourself before you can access the information, chances are the site is pitching products to you. If you’re interested in the product, go ahead and sign up. Otherwise, move on and find a reputable website that isn’t selling you anything.
What I love about the Internet is how resourceful it is and how it can answer questions immediately. If there are comments on the site, check them out to see how others have used that information. I you find a site that resonates with you, bookmark it, then you can go back and research more information the next time you need to.
As always, getting information from the Internet does not replace the one-on-one conversation with your physician. Sometimes you just need to go in to get a professional consult. And never self-diagnose or go untreated if you have fever or are not showing signs of improvement. In fact, next time you see your doc, ask them if there are any websites they recommend as a resource. That’ll provide great insight on what they use as their guide.
About the Author
Peggy Paul, Founder of SheTaxi, originally published this blog in 2011 on SheTaxi.com