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October 2005 Issue

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NetWellness Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

Published October 2005

NetWellness is turning a new page in its history. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the consumer health Web site, which has been credited with connecting millions of people worldwide with the health information they need via the World Wide Web.

What started out as a UC experiment with just one health expert in pharmacy and medications has now flourished into an online health enterprise where consumers can access nearly 37,000 pages of health information and receive answers to their most pressing health concerns.

"NetWellness has truly made a difference in people's lives," says Steve Marine, UC's NetWellness program director. "We are constantly receiving feedback from people with quite compelling stories.

"Recently, one woman told us that her brother was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a disease unfamiliar to her, but she was able to receive answers to all her questions through NetWellness. Another visitor managed to quit smoking after obtaining valuable smoking cessation information through the site."

In honor of its anniversary, NetWellness recently received a make-over, which included a site redesign, enhanced graphics, easier access and navigation and more content.

In addition, the popular "Ask an Expert" feature has expanded to include 342 health professionals who volunteer their time to answer every consumer question. Currently, 141 UC experts have answered nearly 20,000 questions.

"NetWellness was an opportunity of a lifetime to be involved in something that is groundbreaking," says Tina Weitkamp, UC associate professor of clinical nursing and one of NetWellness' first health experts. "It allows us to connect with consumers who may feel uncomfortable asking questions in a face-to-face environment, and it gives them the opportunity to find out what health providers think about a particular topic. If someone takes the information I give them and makes a positive change, it's worth it."

Looking forward, NetWellness plans to revamp all of its health centers, including a recently added section on African-American health.

Produced in collaboration with Case Western Reserve and Ohio State universities and supported by state and federal grants, foundation gifts and state contracts, NetWellness was created in response to the growing number of people turning to the Internet to obtain medical and health information. Today, it is one of just a few Web sites that remain commercial-free, ensuring that information is unbiased, accurate and anonymous.

"NetWellness also has done something incredible and outlasted many of the first Web sites," adds Marine."Web sites come and go so quickly, and only a handful are able to achieve a milestone like this. Ten years on the Internet is quite an accomplishment. The continuous contributions of our respected faculty are what bring people back to the site."

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