Health On the Net Foundation (HON)
Ms. Célia Boyer
Health On the Net Foundation (HON)
Chemin du Petit-Bel-Air 2
Tel: +41 22 37 26 250
Fax: +41 22 30 55 728
Health On the Net Foundation, founded in 1996 is the leading organization promoting and guiding the deployment of useful and reliable online medical and health information, and its appropriate and efficient use.
HON is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, accredited in 2002 by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, with operational support provided by the Geneva Health Ministry and the National French Health Authority with additional project funding from the European Union.
Through its activities, HON proposes solutions to the two main obstacles: the accessibility of the information and the trustworthiness of medical and health information on the Internet.
To do this, the Foundation has issued a code of good practice called the HONcode. It has also set up a certification system for health web sites, developed search engines for health information such as HONcodeHunt and WRAPIN, and developed with support from local foundations thematic sites offering only reliable information as the sites www.provisu.ch, www.santeromande.ch, and www.scaht.org.
Quality and Trustworthiness of the medical and health online information
HON correctly predicted the need for ethical principles in online health information, issuing in 1996 the HONcode – the first code of practice for medical and health online publishing. It was clear that the number of scientific documents online would soon outstrip the capacity of the traditional peer-review process. Medical controversies and the volatile nature of electronic documents meant that it would be difficult to certify online health content. The HONcode was developed as an alternative to in-depth content-based review, with the goal of inferring quality from the information production process.
The HONcode is a voluntary accreditation program available in 34 languages setting out eight criteria that can easily be followed by any well-intentioned web site operator. Each application is checked by a review committee including medicals professionals for compliance with all eight principles:
7. Financial disclosure
8. Advertising policy
HON is the only organization to enforce its code through a formal complaint mechanism.
What is the site certification for?
The purpose of certification is to improve the quality and transparency of Internet-based medical and health information.
Certification is to:
– bring about awareness among site publishers, through mobilizing them around the certification process of their site;
– help health consumers identify quality sites;
– inform health professionals of the existence of this certification process to help guide their patients and talk with them about the health information collected on the Internet.
What does the certification do to the general public? Patients? Health professionals?
The HONcode Certification educates site publishers that ethical rules apply to the health and medical information published on the internet as it exists for other media. By providing the traceability of the authors and the production process, it indirectly induces a better information quality.
For users, it provides a new tool to better assess the medical and health information from the web and take better advantage of opportunities in the Internet.
The certification enables health professionals to complete and share certain information with their patients, to improve the quality of care and the therapeutic relationship in a context of complementarity.
HON Research laboratory
With the expertise acquired in the domain of the provision of quality health information and access to the information, HON conducts applied research in order to propose solutions for tomorrow.
HON is highly involved in a 4 years large scale integrating European project (2010-2014), KHRESMOI, a multi-lingual, multi-modal search and access system for biomedical information and documents.