By Elaina Thomakos
Healthcare Communications Liaison
With so much information readily available on the internet, it can be hard to know what to trust and what to ignore. Anyone has the capability of posting information to the internet, especially through sharing posts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. When researching medical conditions and services, it is important to ensure that the information is true, reliable, and accurate. Sifting through websites trying to figure out if the source is reliable can be tedious, so it can be helpful to know what key factors to look for when doing research.
Using Known Reputable Websites
Getting medical information from social media can be a gamble unless it is a link to a known reputable website. Websites that share reliable and reviewed medical information include:
This list is not all-inclusive of websites that provide reliable information. Another way to determine if a website is reputable is by determining what kind of website it is. Common website types include:
- .gov = U.S. government
- .edu = educational institution
- .org = professional or non-profit organization
- .com = commercial website such as a website for a drug company
Websites with .gov, .edu, and .org are typically known to be reliable, but other websites can also contain accurate medical information.
Tips to Determine if a Source is Reliable
It is important to assess any website, even .gov, .edu, and .org, to determine if the information they are providing is reliable. An important thing to consider when reading medical information is checking for tones of bias. Medical information should be unbiased and solely present facts and verifiable information. Similarly, determining who the author is can also help to detect if there is an underlying bias or if the information is coming from a reliable source. Reputable websites will inform readers who wrote the information and where it came from. This also includes sharing the credentials of the author and any relevant experience, such as if they have researched the topic they are writing about.
Another factor in a website to consider is when the information was published. With the ever-changing nature of the medical field as new research is completed and practices are changed, information can quickly become out of date. An article or information published a decade ago may not best reflect information on the topic. Other factors to be aware of are if the website is protecting your privacy and health information and if they are trying to sell you something. A reputable website will not ask you to input any of your personal health records before allowing you to read the content on their website. In addition, any website that is trying to market a product to you is most likely not the most reliable source of information available.
If you’re unsure of how to begin finding reputable medical sources online, a great place to start is to ask your doctor or other medical providers which websites they would recommend.
Health apps can also be sources of reliable medical information and can be assessed for reliability and accuracy in the same ways as websites. Apps are available for a variety of functions, such as providing medication reminders or education on medical conditions. When downloading and using health apps, it is important to consider that anyone can develop an app for any reason. Researching the app can help to determine if it was made for profit or to assist people with medical concerns. Part of the research process should include finding out who made the app. These apps should have privacy policies to ensure that your private health record is not compromised.
With so much information readily available on the internet, it is our hope that the tips above prove useful and protect you, your information, and your health.
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).