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Topics : Primary Practice Web Sites

Online Patient Education Resources for Practice Web Sites

Assembling online patient education resources can be a time-consuming task when building your practice Web site. TransforMED has taken the lead by providing a "core list" of health care Web sites that your practice can add to your Web site. With most Web site content management systems, it's as simple as copying and pasting the Web site's URL into your content management forms or templates. In other cases, you may need to contact your Web developer.

There are tens of thousands if not millions of pages of ever-evolving health information on the Internet, so no "list of the best health care websites" can be said to be either complete or definitive. Nevertheless, we have assembled a number of excellent choices for your Web site's online patient education resources.

The list below includes popular patient education Web sites, sites especially for parents and kids, Web sites that focus on HIV/AIDS, online patient support communities, sites that offer useful interactive animations, vaccine information, patient-centered lab test information, alternative health information and resources to help your patients learn about how to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of the proliferation of online rescources.

Does your practice offer or use an excellent patient education resource that we've overlooked here? Tell us about it.

 

POPULAR PATIENT EDUCATION CONTENT SITES

familydoctor.org
The patient education content at the Family Doctor Web site is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals at the AAFP. Content is available in both English and Spanish and covers a wide variety of topics. The site is user-friendly and organized in a way that makes it possible for your practice Web site to link directly to "landing pages" that act as overviews for specific conditions, populations, and topics. Rather than simply providing a link to the main site homepage, we recommend linking users directly to targeted content, so for your convenience, we have provided direct links to the main areas.

Main Homepages
http://familydoctor.org - in English
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdoces/home.html -- in Spanish

Conditions A-Z homepage
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common.html

Women's Health homepage
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women.html

Men's Health homepage
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/men.html

Kids' Health homepage
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/children.html

Seniors' Health homepage
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/seniors.html

Healthy Living
Information and advice for patients on a range of topics, from healthy eating to addictions to vaccines.
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy.html

Smart Patient Guide
Concise and well-organized information on numerous topics for patients such as managing their healthcare, understanding health insurance and end-of-life issues.
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/pat-advocacy.html

A useful guide to Over-the-Counter Medicines
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/otc-center.html

Drug Information (search for information on devices, procedures, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs)
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/drugs-procedures-devices.html

Dictionary (of medical and health terms)
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/tools/dictionary.html

 

WebMD
http://webMD.com
WebMD provides quality, comprehensive health resources for consumers, physicians, nurses, and educators. The site includes news, chat forums, health quizzes and consumer product updates, as well as an online Personal Health Record accessible by authorized providers and approved by some health plans. Accredited by both Health on the Net (HON) and the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission's (URAC), webMD is the patient education side of medscape.

Mayo Clinic
http://www.mayoclinic.com
Another great health Web site for consumers, The Mayo Clinic serves up clear and accurate information in useful categories: diseases and conditions, drugs and supplements, treatment decisions, and healthy living. The site has a particularly useful "Drugs and Supplements" area [ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DrugHerbIndex ] that allows users to search or browse alphabetically (very useful when a user's not sure how to spell a word) for prescription and OTC drugs in the Micromedex database, and herbs and supplements in the Natural Standard database. (www.naturalstandard.com) A variety of calculators, self-assessments and easy-to-understand treatment decision guides are available for common ailments and injuries. Prominent links allow users with poor eyesight or presbyopia to increase the type size with a click. Editors of this HON-accredited site include more than 2,000 physicians, scientists, writers, and educators at the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit with over 100 years experience in patient care, medical research, and education.

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org
While the main "Diseases and Conditions" navigation may be too difficult for beginning users or users lacking precise dexterity, the content is on-target and in plain English. A variety of targeted monthly newsletters offer the latest news and advice on all aspects of heart health, including heart attack, cholesterol, blood pressure, arrhythmia, peripheral artery disease, healthy diets and much more. Heart Profilers is a confidential online heart treatment decision tool that allows users to input personal information and receive a report reviewing treatment options, possible side effects, success rates and questions to ask the doctor.  Links to medical journal articles and research studies written in an easy-to-understand format are also provided. Do note that the site does feature many context-driven pharmaceutical advertisements.

The New York Times Health Guide
http://www.nytimes.com/health
The New York Times offers a comprehensive online compendium of medical topics, including thousands of in-depth articles on diseases, conditions, tests, symptoms, injuries and surgeries. Frequently updated, this reference is reviewed by doctors, medical writers and editors. Within the guide are extensive links to The Times's archive of news and features. The Times Guide also includes articles by reporters for The New York Times highlighting the latest news on the most common diseases and conditions.

PRIMED Patient Education Center
http://www.patientedu.org/
PRIMED Patient Education Center provides health information written by Harvard Medical School and targeted to consumers. Of particular note are the many excellent, accessible brochures that educate about common diseases and conditions. These are readily available via clear navigation and are offered in any easily downloadable and printable PDF format. PRIMED Patient Education Center also offers glossaries, links to other resources and interactive tools for patients to assess their knowledge and risk. The site does include advertisments for pharmaceuticals.

Discovery Health
http://health.discovery.com/
Discovery Health, a companion Web site to the Discovery Health television channel offers engaging and accessible information on most diseases and conditions. Learning areas include Diseases and Conditions, Fitness and Nutrition, Healthy Living, Mental Health, Pregnancy and Parenting, and Sex and Relationships. The site offers a variety of expert blogs as well as assessment tools and calculators for many conditions and health goals. Discovery has partnered with a variety of respected organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association, however Discovery's privacy policy may not suit all patients.

 

ESPECIALLY EASY-TO-READ

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/eztoread.htm
Of particular note at the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Web site are the easy-to-read publications, many offered in a simple and direct "What I need to know..." FAQ-style format available as Web pages or printable PDF documents that are useful as handouts. Topics include diabetes, hepatitis, colon polyps, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, kidney stones, urinary tract infections and prostate problems, among many others.

 

FOR KIDS AND PARENTS

Baby Center
http://www.babycenter.com
This site is a 2006 Webby People's Voice Award winner. While rather more openly commercial than some other health information Web sites, this site offers very good tools and useful information on pregnancy, birthing and parenting in an engaging "pop culture" format and style.

 

KidsHealth
http://www.kidshealth.org
KidsHealth provides doctor-approved, age-appropriate health information for parents, kids and teens. Created by The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media, KidsHealth provides families with culturally relevant, accurate, up-to-date, and jargon-free health information, in English and Spanish.

 

HIV/AIDS

AIDSInfo
http://www.hivatis.org
AIDSinfo is a HON-accredited Web site published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and provides comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment information. Unlike many other HIV/AIDS sites, the site is clearly organized, easy-to-read and use and offers useful information (in English and Spanish), tools and search capabilities that allow users to look for clinical trials and search the drug database. In addition, patients and providers can sign up to be automatically emailed the most recent HHS guidelines documents for the medical management of HIV infection and issues surrounding HIV infection.

 

ONLINE SUPPORT COMMUNITIES

DailyStrength
http://dailystrength.org
DailyStrength is a commercial Web site that offers free, robust and active online support communities for over 500 conditions, including depression, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, diabetes and even dieting. Members can share inspirational stories, advice, treatment experiences and even email "cyber hugs" to other members. The site is supported by Google Ads and, like most other public forum sites, search engines, retailers and credit card companies, does collect and store personal information.

 

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

DrugAbuse.com
http://drugabuse.com/library/get-the-facts-on-substance-abuse/
DailyStrength is a commercial Web site that offers free, robust and active online support communities for over 500 conditions, including depression, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, diabetes and even dieting. Members can share inspirational stories, advice, treatment experiences and even email "cyber hugs" to other members. The site is supported by Google Ads and, like most other public forum sites, search engines, retailers and credit card companies, does collect and store personal information.

 

INTERACTIVE ANIMATIONS

NIH's Medline Plus
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorial.html
The interactive health education tutorials at Medline Plus provide access to the Patient Education Institute’s "X-Plain" library of Flash 6 animations to educate patients about the most common procedures, diseases and conditions, all in easy-to-understand language and graphics. A complementary quiz function can be enabled or disabled. Also available in Spanish.

 

ALTERNATIVE HEALTH

NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
http://nccam.nih.gov/health
The NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine offers information on dietary supplements, alternative treatments and therapies, as well as fact sheets on the basics of complementary, alternative and integrative approaches. Also available in Spanish.

 

WholeHealthMD
http://www.wholehealthmd.com
WholeHealthMD was developed by a team of board- certified doctors and CAM specialists who practiced in integrative medicine centers previously operated by American WholeHealth. These doctors worked with chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbal medicine advisors, nutritionists, and massage therapists to provide integrative health care solutions using a patient-centered approach to wellness. Users can browse via "Healing Centers" to find quite specific, actionable information on a variety of supplements and integrative practices-- including  WholeHealthMD doctors' recommendations for specific vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements --with dosages, how-to take instructions, and other tips. A healthful diet is emphasized in the "Healing Kitchen".

 

LAB TEST INFORMATION

Lab Tests Online
http://www.labtestsonline.org
Peer-reviewed, non-commercial, patient-centered information on a huge variety of clinical laboratory tests that is browse-able by tests, conditions/diseases and life stage screening. Provided in English, Spanish, German and Polish with several other languages in development.

 

VACCINE INFORMATION

Vaccine Information
http://www.vaccineinformation.org
This site is published by the not-for-profit Immunization Action Coalition and provides comprehensive, easy-to-understand vaccination information and mandates in English and Spanish. Prominent links on the home page address public concerns about vaccine safety.

 

 

Looking to find other reliable health information resources on the Web?

National Institutes of Health
http://health.nih.gov
The National Institutes of Health provides an excellent, up-to-date, accurate and extremely well-organized patient health information "online catalog". Visitors may choose a variety of ways to browse and search for information on diseases, conditions and symptoms. Simple list type navigation reduces distractions. This Web site is a great place to quickly find links to disease-specific topics at a variety of authoritative Web sites elsewhere on the 'Net.

Google Health
http://www.google.com/Top/Health
Web leader Google offers a new option for identifying useful health information on the Internet. Google has teamed with health Web site accreditation organization HON (see below) to include "reliability" as one of the indices that ranks health information pages. The best results are displayed in a simple interface that allows users to search only among health sites and to quickly drill down to specific topics.

Health on the Net Foundation (HON)
Two search functions provided by the Health on the Net Foundation, which provides accreditation and guidelines for health information Web sites (see right sidebar at top).

HON MedHunt
http://www.hon.ch/MedHunt
Search for medical Web sites by keyword and refine your search by geographical location and several other options.

HONselect
http://www.hon.ch/HONselect
Search more than 33,000 terms from MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) of the National Library of Medicine by disease, anatomical area, viruses and drugs, or psychiatry and psychology. Each term entry links to other organizations, gives a definition, displays graphics, and more.

 

Resources to help your patients evaluate online health information

An easy and quick guide at the AAFP's familydoctor.org
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/safety/safety/783.html

The Medical Library Association's User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web
http://www.mlanet.org/resources/userguide.html

 


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