Published criteria for evaluating health related web sites: review.
OBJECTIVE: To review published criteria for specifically evaluating health related information on the world wide web, and to identify areas of consensus. DESIGN: Search of world wide web sites and peer reviewed medical journals for explicit criteria for evaluating health related information on the web, using Medline and Lexis-Nexis databases, and the following internet search engines: Yahoo!, Excite, Altavista, Webcrawler, HotBot, Infoseek, Magellan Internet Guide, and Lycos. Criteria were extracted and grouped into categories. RESULTS: 29 published rating tools and journal articles were identified that had explicit criteria for assessing health related web sites. Of the 165 criteria extracted from these tools and articles, 132 (80%) were grouped under one of 12 specific categories and 33 (20%) were grouped as miscellaneous because they lacked specificity or were unique. The most frequently cited criteria were those dealing with content, design and aesthetics of site, disclosure of authors, sponsors, or developers, currency of information (includes frequency of update, freshness, maintenance of site), authority of source, ease of use, and accessibility and availability. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that many authors agree on key criteria for evaluating health related web sites, and that efforts to develop consensus criteria may be helpful. The next step is to identify and assess a clear, simple set of consensus criteria that the general public can understand and use. (+info)
Computers in ophthalmology practice.
Computers are already in widespread use in medical practice throughout the world and their utility and popularity is increasing day by day. While future generations of medical professionals will be computer literate with a corresponding increase in use of computers in medical practice, the current generation finds itself in a dilemma of how best to adapt to the fast-evolving world of information technology. In addition to practice management, information technology has already had a substantial impact on diagnostic medicine, especially in imaging techniques and maintenance of medical records. This information technology is now poised to make a big impact on the way we deliver medical care in India. Ophthalmology is no exception to this, but at present very few practices are either fully or partially computerized. This article provides a practical account of the uses and advantages of computers in ophthalmic practice, as well as a step-by-step approach to the optimal utilization of available computer technology. (+info)
Information exchange in an epilepsy forum on the World Wide Web.
The Partners Healthcare Epilepsy Service hosts an epilepsy 'Webforum'. In this paper, we describe our observations regarding who uses it, what kind of information is exchanged, how much misinformation is present and how we can better serve our patients. We examined a sample of 155 posts to the forum and 342 responses to those posts. The individual making the post and the type of questions were categorized. We also determined whether any information was objectively inaccurate. The principal users were care-givers (49%) and patients (34%). Eighty percent of the primary posts were questions. Answers were given largely by patients (38%) and care-givers (34%). The most commonly asked questions were about treatment options (31%) and the natural history of the illness (28%). In 20% of the questions, the user incidentally remarked that a health-care provider had not met their information needs. Six percent of the information was objectively inaccurate. The Web can serve as an effective means for the exchange of information between individuals with a common medical condition. We found that a small amount of misinformation is exchanged and that health-care providers are sometimes perceived as unable or unwilling to supply important health-related information. (+info)
Informatics at the National Institutes of Health: a call to action.
Biomedical informatics, imaging, and engineering are major forces driving the knowledge revolutions that are shaping the agendas for biomedical research and clinical medicine in the 21st century. These disciplines produce the tools and techniques to advance biomedical research, and continually feed new technologies and procedures into clinical medicine. To sustain this force, an increased investment is needed in the physics, biomedical science, engineering, mathematics, information science, and computer science undergirding biomedical informatics, engineering, and imaging. This investment should be made primarily through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, the NIH is not structured to support such disciplines as biomedical informatics, engineering, and imaging that cross boundaries between disease- and organ-oriented institutes. The solution to this dilemma is the creation of a new institute or center at the NIH devoted to biomedical imaging, engineering, and informatics. Bills are being introduced into the 106th Congress to authorize such an entity. The pathway is long and arduous, from the introduction of bills in the House and Senate to the realization of new opportunities for biomedical informatics, engineering, and imaging at the NIH. There are many opportunities for medical informaticians to contribute to this realization. (+info)
Health informatics: linking investment to value.
Informatics and information technology do not appear to be valued by the health industry to the degree that they are in other industries. The agenda for health informatics should be presented so that value to the health system is linked directly to required investment. The agenda should acknowledge the foundation provided by the current health system and the role of financial issues, system impediments, policy, and knowledge in effecting change. The desired outcomes should be compelling, such as improved public health, improved quality as perceived by consumers, and lower costs. Strategies to achieve these outcomes should derive from the differentia of health, opportunities to leverage other efforts, and lessons from successes inside and outside the health industry. Examples might include using logistics to improve quality, mass customization to adapt to individual values, and system thinking to change the game to one that can be won. The justification for the informatics infrastructure of a virtual health care data bank, a national health care knowledge base, and a personal clinical health record flows naturally from these strategies. (+info)
Information technology outside health care: what does it matter to us?
Non-health-care uses of information technology (IT) provide important lessons for health care informatics that are often overlooked because of the focus on the ways in which health care is different from other domains. Eight examples of IT use outside health care provide a context in which to examine the content and potential relevance of these lessons. Drawn from personal experience, five books, and two interviews, the examples deal with the role of leadership, academia, the private sector, the government, and individuals working in large organizations. The interviews focus on the need to manage technologic change. The lessons shed light on how to manage complexity, create and deploy standards, empower individuals, and overcome the occasional "wrongness" of conventional wisdom. One conclusion is that any health care informatics self-examination should be outward-looking and focus on the role of health care IT in the larger context of the evolving uses of IT in all domains. (+info)
Personalized health care and business success: can informatics bring us to the promised land?
Perrow's models of organizational technologies provide a framework for analyzing clinical work processes and identifying the management structures and informatics tools to support each model. From this perspective, health care is a mixed model in which knowledge workers require flexible management and a variety of informatics tools. A Venn diagram representing the content of clinical decisions shows that uncertainties in the components of clinical decisions largely determine which type of clinical work process is in play at a given moment. By reducing uncertainties in clinical decisions, informatics tools can support the appropriate implementation of knowledge and free clinicians to use their creativity where patients require new or unique interventions. Outside health care, information technologies have made possible breakthrough strategies for business success that would otherwise have been impossible. Can health informatics work similar magic and help health care agencies fulfill their social mission while establishing sound business practices? One way to do this would be through personalized health care. Extensive data collected from patients could be aggregated and analyzed to support better decisions for the care of individual patients as well as provide projections of the need for health services for strategic and tactical planning. By making excellent care for each patient possible, reducing the "inventory" of little-needed services, and targeting resources to population needs, informatics can offer a route to the "promised land" of adequate resources and high-quality care. (+info)
Randomised trial of personalised computer based information for cancer patients.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the use and effect of a computer based information system for cancer patients that is personalised using each patient's medical record with a system providing only general information and with information provided in booklets. DESIGN: Randomised trial with three groups. Data collected at start of radiotherapy, one week later (when information provided), three weeks later, and three months later. PARTICIPANTS: 525 patients started radical radiotherapy; 438 completed follow up. INTERVENTIONS: Two groups were offered information via computer (personalised or general information, or both) with open access to computer thereafter; the third group was offered a selection of information booklets. OUTCOMES: Patients' views and preferences, use of computer and information, and psychological status; doctors' perceptions; cost of interventions. RESULTS: More patients offered the personalised information said that they had learnt something new, thought the information was relevant, used the computer again, and showed their computer printouts to others. There were no major differences in doctors' perceptions of patients. More of the general computer group were anxious at three months. With an electronic patient record system, in the long run the personalised information system would cost no more than the general system. Full access to booklets cost twice as much as the general system. CONCLUSIONS: Patients preferred computer systems that provided information from their medical records to systems that just provided general information. This has implications for the design and implementation of electronic patient record systems and reliance on general sources of patient information. (+info)