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Trisha Torrey

HON HONors High Principles and Objectivity

By April 22, 2012

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I received an email yesterday from HON telling me that my personal websites have once again met its criteria for excellence (my word) in healthcare information. About once every two years I get that news. I wanted to share the smile it put on my face with you.

Wondering what HON is?  Well - take a moment to scroll to the bottom right corner of this page and you'll see the logo (which I've replicated here, too.) .... Yes, my About.com Patient Empowerment site meets HON standards as well.

HON stands for Health on the 'Net Foundation, a non government, non profit, certifying body for objective health information online.  It's web address isn't the usual one we see in the US or Canada:   www.HON.ch <- where the .ch at the end (instead of .com or .ca) stands for Switzerland.  (And what did we all learn in fourth grade about Switzerland?  Yes - that it is known for neutrality and peace keeping.)

Why is this HON designation important?  The criteria HON applies to the websites it reviews and credentials are those that we know are important in identifying the value of website information.  Here are the criteria a site must meet to receive the blessing of HON:

  • Authority - requires a listing of the qualifications of the authors cited in the site
  • Complementarity - means it supports the partnership between patients and providers
  • Privacy - site visitors are protected and respected
  • Attribution - all information must be sourced and dated
  • Justifiability - claims of benefits or performance must have back up (evidence)
  • Transparency - easy to find contact information and email address
  • Financial disclosure - funding sources are identified
  • Advertising Policy - what is advertising vs what is editorial content must be clearly distinguished

One of the great features of HON is not just the assignment of its blessing to sites that meet its criteria, but the search engines it also offers which provide results that are only HON credentialed sites.  They offer an all encompassing search engine called Med Hunt. And they have some more focused engines that cover news, media, and rare diseases, too.

Using sites where you find the HON code can give you a good clue as to the quality of the information presented.  Lack of the HON code doesn't mean it's bad information - but inclusion of it means the information is at least objective and meets the criteria listed above.

In these days when we must follow the money to be sure we are finding objective and reliable information, seeking out the HON designation can make it easier to be sure we are finding information we can use.

Learn more about HON and its code.

Learn more about Finding Credible, Reliable Objective Health Information on the Internet

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