ONLINE MEDICAL INFORMATION
The Health On the Net Foundation (HON), created in 1995, is a non-governmental organization under the aegis of the Direction générale de la santé Département de l`Action Sociale et de Santé (DASS - République et canton de Genève, Switzerland). HON`s mission is to guide lay persons or non-medical users and medical practitioners to useful and reliable online medical information and online health information. HON provides leadership in setting ethical standards for Web site developers. HON thanks the support of the Geneva University Hospital, and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Powered by Sun Microsystems. The European Projects WRAPIN, ActiveHealth and PIPS are funded by Federal Office for Education and Science (OFES), Berne & the European Union.
Health On the Net Foundation`s origins go back to September 7-8, 1995, when some of the world`s foremost experts on telemedicine gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for a conference entitled ``The Use of the Internet and World-Wide Web for Telematics in Healthcare``. The 60 participants came from 11 countries. They included U.S. heart surgeon Dr Michael DeBakey, physicians and professors, researchers and senior representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the European Commission, the National Library of Medicine and the G7-Global Healthcare Applications Project.
As the conference wound up, they unanimously voted to create a permanent body that would, in the words of the program, ``promote the effective and reliable use of the new technologies for telemedicine in healthcare around the world.`` HON`s site went live some six months later. On March 20, 1996, www.hon.ch became one of the very first URLs to guide both lay users and medical professionals to reliable sources of healthcare information in cyberspace. HON has today has become one of most respected not-for-profit portals to medical information on the Internet. We are a Swiss foundation, operating out of Geneva with the generous support of local Geneva authorities.
MEDICAL INFORMATICS, MEDHUNT, HONSELECT, HON CODE OF CONDUCT
Embedded in one of the liveliest, most innovative international centres for R&D in medical informatics and life sciences, HON co-operates closely with the University Hospitals of Geneva and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatic. Our distinguished Council members and Webteam hail from several European countries and the U.S. Among HON`s distinguishing features are two widely-used medical search tools, MedHunt and HONselect, and the HON Code of Conduct (HONcode) for the provision of authoritative, trustworthy Web-based medical information.
Our mission is to guide the growing community of healthcare consumers and providers on the World Wide Web to sound, reliable medical information and expertise. In this way, HON seeks to contribute to better, more accessible and cost-effective healthcare. Quality assessment has been our concern since the beginning. We recognize the need for systematic and stringent peer review. We have led international efforts to improve the quality of medical information on the Internet, notably through the HON Code of Conduct (HONcode©) for healthcare site developers. This remains a HON priority.
Care providers and medical students are making increasing use of the wealth of medical multimedia available on the Web. Keeping up-to-date with medical progress has never been easier. Access to online discussions, career networking and Web site hosting services has opened new horizons for physicians, nurses and all other healthcare professions. HON works to develop effective telemedicine through cross-border work in R&D projects. And to encourage more medical professionals to use the Internet, we also provide a complete international conference schedule and detailed listings of medical resources on the Internet, including all known hospital Web sites. More importantly, HON`s MedHunt and HONselect offer all users the best-available Web sites and support groups, medical images and terminology, journal articles and news.
Ordinary citizens are pouring into the Internet in growing numbers to find answers to a vast array of healthcare questions. Many patients find help, encouragement and cost-effective counselling from on-line support communities, thus overcoming isolation, improving their morale and, often, developing useful teleworking skills. Medicine`s move into the Web is unstoppable. As patients gain easy access to more and more medical information, they are seeking to become more involved in decisions about their health. This trend has started to alter traditional doctor-patient relationships. However good it is, online information cannot replace the vital personal relationship between patients and their doctors. But it can make for more knowledgeable patients, physicians, nurses and other medical care providers. As we come to understand and act on this, the health benefits will be palpable.