HHS launches new web pilot project for consumer health information

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced the launch of a 9-month pilot project with WebMD Health to make HHS consumer health information more widely and more rapidly available to the public on a new HHS "channel" on WebMD. The partnership will also accelerate the ability of HHS to disseminate life-saving information to the public in the event of a major public health emergency. The new HHS channel on WebMD is available at http://hhs.webmd.com.

"The Web has become an important tool for government to communicate with its citizens, and this new partnership with WebMD will greatly expand our ability to empower Americans through the Web to improve their health and prevent disease," Secretary Thompson said. "In the event that a major public health emergency ever confronts our nation, this new partnership also will help us get potentially life-saving information out to the public as quickly as possible. This is one more way we are building our biodefense preparedness."

Through the HHS-WebMD partnership, HHS will be able to reach a broad audience and help them become more literate about health care and health in general -- whether it is how to read a food label properly so they can make smart choices about what they eat, or how to talk to their doctors.

"WebMD and HHS share the same mission of ensuring that all Americans have immediate access to critical health information so that they're able to make more informed health care decisions," said Wayne Gattinella, President, WebMD Health. "We're pleased to have HHS as a partner as this collaboration further demonstrates WebMD's position as the leading source of health information for consumers and physicians."

During the pilot, HHS will select health content supporting national priorities and relevant to a general consumer audience from the broad range of information produced by HHS agencies. WebMD will make the information available in an HHS-branded educational center on WebMD Health and through WebMD's partner health sites, including MSN Health with WebMD and AOL Health with WebMD. Topics addressed will include physical activity (the first under the pilot), nutrition, preventive screening, and diabetes.

The new HHS channel on WebMD will feature information from across the many HHS agencies that disseminate health information for the general public, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The project will complement the recent redesign of the main HHS web site, www.hhs.gov, to a citizen-centric site that provides quick and easy access to the wealth of consumer health information available across HHS and its many agencies. HHS currently offers consumer health information through resources such as MedlinePlus (http://medlineplus.gov/), which offers comprehensive information on more than 650 health topics, as well as prescription and over-the-counter drug information, and a medical encyclopedia and dictionary.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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