Google’s Bosworth: How do you know you’re getting the best care possible?

Google VP Adam Bosworth blogs again on the topic of health information.

Among other things, he mentions that Google users seeking health information don’t seem to care about which sites have been “labelled” by the NLM or HON.

At Google, we have tried, as I said in an earlier post, to enlist the help of the health community to help us know which links contain medically reliable information, sift these reliable links so that they tend to show up relatively earlier in the search results, and then let you decide which groups in the health community you trust. If you go to Google and type in [Lipitor], for example, and then you click on the “For patients” link and look carefully, you’ll see that the search results often include at the bottom the word “Labeled By,” followed by words like NLM and HON. NLM stands for the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, and HON stands for Health on the Net Foundation, an organization which is in the business of certifying web sites with health content that is reliable. These are organizations that have marked the part of the web that this link in the search results points to as medically reliable. It seems that we at Google may not have done a great job of making this clear enough. Unfortunately, many of you either don’t notice these words when you’re searching about health questions at Google or have no idea what they mean. Clearly, we can do better at making this kind of labeling noticeable and your ideas on how we could make it clear to you that a site is medically reliable or trustworthy would be greatly appreciated as we think this through.

Question for Medical Librarians: How do you generally regard the Health on the Net Foundation? Does seeing that a site displays the HONcode icon significantly inform your judgement of a site’s value?

Previous mentions of Bosworth’s blogging on health information

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