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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 03/13/00
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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NetWellness Places Content, Integrity and User Privacy at Forefront

Ohio's Consumer Health Information Resource Applauds Recent Ethics Summit, Points to its Own Six-Year History of Providing Quality Health Content Via the Web

Cincinnati--NetWellness (netwellness.org) announced today its support for the work of groups like the Internet Healthcare Coalition and Hi-Ethics, while reminding consumers of its own ongoing efforts to ensure the quality, integrity, and privacy of its service.

"We applaud the Internet Healthcare Coalition's efforts to draft an International Code of Ethics for Internet health care," says Roger Guard, assistant senior vice president, chief information officer, University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, and chairman of the NetWellness Editorial Board. "Their proposal is consistent with the strict code of confidentiality and guidelines for content quality that NetWellness developed six years ago and has continued to evolve since."

NetWellness strives to provide the highest quality health information and education services, created and evaluated by the faculty at the University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, and Case Western Reserve University, adds Guard.

"Faculty work in teams of writers and editors to provide a level of peer review," says Stephen Marine, director of outreach for Academic Information Technology and Libraries at the UC Medical Center and NetWellness Program Director. "They contribute their time to NetWellness because they are committed to public service and educating consumers."

Marine adds that faculty use the Criteria for Assessing the Quality of Health Information on the Internet created by the Health Summit Working Group (hitiweb.mitretek.org/hswg) to ensure information provided by NetWellness is reliable and useful. In addition, NetWellness subscribes to the Health On the Net code (www.hon.ch) and is approved by Quackwatch (www.quackwatch.com).

Among its other efforts to provide for quality and integrity of content:

  • All information produced by NetWellness experts is date stamped with an original date and latest revision date.

  • Faculty conduct periodic reviews of both evaluated web sites and original materials, and determine archiving policies in their topics.

  • Faculty also review thousands of other health web sites, using the criteria to authorize hotlinks to nearly 1000 sites.

Among the service's most popular features is Ask an Expert,with nearly 200 health professionals, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, dentists, genetics counselors, optometrists, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and social workers who answer all legitimate health questions, usually within two to three days. In providing this and all its services, privacy is a first priority for NetWellness.

"NetWellness is committed to protecting the privacy of its users," explains Marine. "NetWellness does not collect or share personal information about its users. Information is gathered only anonymously and in aggregate solely to help improve the site. We've never used cookies or required users to register. We have no reason to. We're not trying to sell anything. We're just trying to provide the very best health information on the Web." Consumers who use the site are also regularly asked to share their suggestions with the NetWellness team about how to improve the site, including issues related to privacy and confidentiality.

How NetWellness is funded also helps ensure the site's integrity, according to Guard. "The State of Ohio is NetWellness' primary financial supporter, but many other sponsors provide additional support. To ensure integrity and purity NetWellness accepts financial support only through sponsorships and unrestricted grants and gifts."



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