After browsing over a few of the medical and health websites, I decided to evaluate the MedlinePlus website. Many of the websites have some very valuable information and credible sources and accessibility. The reason I chose this website is based on the ease of access, less sponsored information on the webpage, and it is recommended as a source of patient information teaching from Intermountain Healthcare, where I work. It is also one of the top recommended health search websites on the internet. If Intermountain Healthcare has this listed as the site for resources over all the others, I feel it is worth evaluating. I will evaluate the site for accuracy, credibility, appearance and usability, currency and financial cost, objectivity, and tone.
Relevance of Website
MedlinePlus is relevant to Nursing Informatics because of the valuable information that is available at no cost. There is no advertising on the website and they do not endorse certain products (Lindberg, 2013). MedlinePlus has a goal to provide up-to-date information to consumer and professionals in the medical field. According to the Director of National Library of Medicine, “There are directories, a medical encyclopedia and a medical dictionary, easy-to-understand tutorials on common conditions, tests, and treatments, health information in Spanish, extensive information on prescription and nonprescription drugs, health information from the media, and links to thousands of clinical trials” (Lindberg, 2013). There is a great deal of information about possible diseases all in one place. The website is updated daily and has relevant material to healthcare professionals. MedlinePlus is also easy to navigate and search allowing our patients to look up information about their diseases or problems.
Description of Criteria
I evaluated the website MedlinePlus using the criteria of accuracy, credibility, appearance and usability, currency and financial cost, objectivity, and tone. I will explain and show how using these criteria will prove the value of this website and its usefulness to the public and the professional in healthcare. My evaluation using these criteria will show updated information that is available on the website and how accurate it can be with the trust of knowing the information available is believable and researched without bias.
MedlinePlus website was put together not to sell any products or services, they are primarily a resource of information about general health. The organization has a goal to provide accurate, science-based information (NLM, 2015). MedlinePlus also provides direct links to original content, and links only to reliable sources. Also, the information is current or they have provided the update date (NLM, 2015). If research has been done, the website has provided the sources for accuracy checking and more information that may be available.
MedlinePlus complies with the standards and ethic codes with the HONcode. This means it is certified by The Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct. The Health on the Net Foundation evaluates the site for credible health information on the internet (Health on the Net Foundation, 2015). The HONcode is does not award websites or rate any quality of information on the websites. The HONcode holds the Web sites to a set of ethical standards based on the information presented, as well as make sure the sources of information is available (Health on the Net Foundation, 2015). MedlinePlus was approved by the Dr. Oz show in January 2013. MedlinePlus site was also listed as a site trusted for general health in Good Housekeeping magazine described as being very informational and covering over 900 conditions in August 16, 2012 issue (Graham, 2012). Consumer Reports recognized MedlinePlus as a website that works and suggested it is the most reliable and very easy to navigate with hundreds of videotaped surgeries to watch with information available (Guest, 2009). The site is well-organized and easy to use to find the information needed.
MedlinePlus web page is very user friendly. On the home page it is divided by Health Topics, Drugs & Supplements, and Videos & Cool Tools. There is also some up-to-date information from the News. There are tabs divided in General, Seniors, Men, Women, and Children and a link to the NIHSeniorHealth. There are popular searches listed as well as a search link for the site (NLM, 2015). The over-all look of the page is nice and colors are not too bold. There is not any advertisements listed and it is not over-whelming with information. The Health topics takes you to an alphabetized list to choose from and you can search by body location/system. The Drugs & Supplements link is also alphabetized and you can look up a medical drug or herbs and supplements that will show you the side effects, dosage, and special precautions. While navigating through the website I found it very easy to use and not confusing on where to look for the information I may need. I thought the Videos & Cool Tools were helpful showing anatomy and surgery videos. Although, if I were to have a surgery, I am not sure I would like to see what is being done beforehand. I also like the Latest Health News link that is available to show you up to date information that is a current topic of news.
According to the statistics on MedlinePlus for the first quarter of 2015 they had over 80 million visitors and page views. As of 2014 they have 959 health topics in English and 950 in Spanish (NLM, 2015).
MedlinePlus website was produced in 1999 with minimal page views and visitors. The website gained more popularity around 2001-2004 (NLM, 2015). The website is updated and reviewed continuously and new links are added every day. In each health topic page they have two dates listed, the date last updated and the topic last review date. The dictionary is copyrighted date of 2014. The medical encyclopedia is updated monthly. The news is updated every weekday and HealthDay news stories remain on the site for 90 days. (NLM, 2015). The web page is not outdated because of updates. Obtaining access to the complete site of Health Topics, Drugs & Supplements, and Videos is free to access from anywhere. There is a mobile access link of m.medlineplus.gov to view from any mobile device free of charge from your search internet engine. MedlinePlus also has an option of MedlinePlus Connect that links patient portals and EHRs to Consumer Health Information. This is a free service and doesn’t require you to register for it. MedlinePlus Connect will give you information on your own diagnoses, medications, and lab tests (NLM, 2015). This new EHR connection shows how MedlinePlus is keeping up with the technology and accessibility for information to patients.
The goal or objective of MedlinePlus was created by the National Library of Medicine. This is a part of the National Institutes of Health. They created MedlinePlus to assist the patient and healthcare professional in locating authoritative health information. The use of encyclopedias, dictionary, and drug information is to keep you informed on current and everyday medical information (NLM, 2015). The use of video tools, encyclopedia, and dictionaries the information is very detailed, accurate, and up-to-date with information. According to the Director of National Library of Medicine he believes MedlinePlus, “a goldmine of good health information from the world’s largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine” (Lindberg, 2013).
The tone of the website is very realistic. It uses very matter-of-fact wording and search links. It is easy to understand and navigate throughout the links and tabs on the website. MedlinePlus is also very professional in the way the page is laid out and the wording used to describe the navigation.
After evaluating this website and others, I have come to the conclusion that this website, MedlinePlus, is accurate and useful. I do work in a hospital that recommends MedlinePlus as a resource for employees to utilize as well as use in patient teaching. The web page was very user friendly with the wording and the layout. Using the criteria of accuracy, credibility, appearance and usability, currency and financial cost, objectivity, and tone for evaluating this website was helpful in proving to myself and hopefully others that it is a beneficial website to use as a resource for personal and professional use. All of these criteria were useful to ask the right questions in evaluating MedlinePlus to be a good resource to use. The website is accurate, has good credibility, the appearance is user friendly, it is free to use and cost efficient, the information has good objectivity, and the overall tone of the site is realistic. The only recommendation I would give for this website is the use of the MedlinePlus connect for EHR tool. The description of how to set this up was confusing. I believe they could explain the setup of this tool better with easier instructions for those that are not used to technology. This evaluation has proven to me the usefulness of MedlinePlus and I would recommend it to my patients, family, and friends.
Graham, J. (2012, May). The 14 most trusted health sites. Retrieved from http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/womens-health/14-trusted-health-sites-2
Guest, Jim (2009, March). Web sites that work. Retrieved from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/march-2009/from-our-president/overview/data-management-ov.htm
Health on the Net Foundation, (2015). Honcode certification. Retrieved from website: http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Patients/
Lindberg, D. A. B. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. (2013). A message from the director. Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/aboutmedlineplus.html
National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. (2015). How often is MedlinePlus updated. Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/faq/updateschedule.html
National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. (2015). What is MedlinePlus? Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/faq/what.html
National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. (2015). MedlinePlus awards and recognition. Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/recognition.html
National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health (2015). MedlinePlus Quality Guidelines. Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/recognition.html
National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health (2015). MedlinePlus Statistics. Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/usestatistics.html
National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. (2015). National institutes of health MedlinePlus advisory group. Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/nihadvisory.html
National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. (2015). MedlinePlus Connect. Retrieved from website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/connect/overview.html