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Currently, the search for medical or health-related data on the Internet concerns one web user out of five. It is true that physicians no longer have the monopoly over prescriptions and the abundance of medical data on the Internet occasionally leads patients to develop preconceived ideas of their diseases. It is in the context of the growing use of healthcare web sites that the French Healthcare High Authority (Haute Autorité de Santé – HAS) has been entrusted by the legislature with the mission of establishing a certification procedure for all entities issuing medical information.
The Swiss non-governmental organisation, Health on the Net (HON), that has already certified more than 5500 sites in 72 countries, has implemented this accreditation by conforming to the quality criteria applicable to healthcare-related web sites. Henceforth, the HON@CODE logo, displayed at the bottom of a home page, shall certify to web users that they are viewing a high-quality site ; it is effective since March 2008.
The certification is based on eight principles, amongst which, the indication of author qualifications, the obligation to cite published information sources, or the clear separation of advertising and editorial policies.
Sources : www.has-sante.fr