by Mark A. Kelley, MD

This blog that we are sharing for National Stay Out of the Sun Day originally appeared on HealthWebNavigator.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Here are some facts:

    • Over 3 million Americans are treated for skin cancer every year.
    • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. 
    • Skin cancer is preventable and easy to detect.  
    • When caught early, this cancer is usually curable. 
    • Some types of skin cancer can be fatal.  

    Skin cancer is caused by sunlight damage to the skin. The only way to prevent it is to stay out of the sun, or block the sun’s rays.

    People with fair skin are more vulnerable to skin cancer. Those with dark complexions have some natural protection since their skin filters out some of the sun’s rays. Nonetheless, people of color can still get skin cancer. 

    The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage the DNA of skin cells. These cells may grow abnormally and eventually become cancerous. This transformation may evolve slowly over many years or may occur earlier in life, particularly if sunlight exposure has been intense.  

    Sunlight can also lead to another problem premature wrinkling of the skin. Sun worshippers believe that a tan is healthy. In reality, a suntan is a sign of the skin injury. If it

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by Mark A. Kelley, M.D.

This blog previously appeared on HealthWeb Navigator.

All of us should understand our own health care costs. However, the issues can be complicated: e.g. insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays etc.

Physicians have a different perspective. Like any professional, they focus on how they are paid. Insurance companies require doctors to submit many details with their bills. Physicians rely on sophisticated billing systems to furnish that information, because without it, they are not paid. In a nutshell, patients worry about paying the bills and doctors worry about sending out the bills.

This raises a key question. How much do doctors know about your insurance and what you must pay?

Of course, the doctor can explain his/her own bills to you. Your doctor’s office has checked your insurance and knows what how they should bill your insurance company. Surprisingly, the doctor may not know much your hospital insurance coverage, or your deductible. Most physicians and their staffs have not been trained to gather this information because it does not affect physician payment. .

But things have

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In 2014, Dr. Mark A. Kelley, a faculty member of Harvard Medical School, developed the idea for HealthWeb Navigator while serving as a Harvard Advanced Leadership fellow. Partnering with NeedyMeds in 2016, HealthWeb Navigator has since published hundreds of website reviews. Today, HealthWeb Navigator is launching the full version of its collection of health website reviews written by doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.

“Patients are more informed now than ever before,” said HealthWeb Navigator founder Mark Kelley, M.D. “Unfortunately, many people make major healthcare decisions based on something they read online. The least we in the medical community can do is guide them to the best sources.”

A 2013 survey found that the average American spends an hour every week looking for health information online. In fact, it’s among the top ten most popular web activities, as common as checking the weather forecast or reading the news.

But studies show that health information available to web users is often inaccurate, complex, or hard to use. Searching Google for something as common as “headache,” for

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Over 70% of internet users go online to learn about their health. Research that a few decades ago only doctors could access can now be downloaded over Starbucks’ WiFi. And because the average doctor’s appointment lasts just 13–16 minutes, many see the internet as a free, convenient alternative to medical advice.

But convenience doesn’t come without costs.

Instant access to health information coincides with an increase in “cyberchondria,” or anxiety about poor health stemming from internet research. Worse, study after study shows online health content is frequently unreliable, inaccurate, or hard to read.

That’s why I want to use this post to teach you a simple test that can help you weed out bad health information online.

The T.R.A.A.P. framework asks you to examine five qualities of any information source: TimelinessRelevanceAuthorityAccuracy, and Purpose.

Any source with its salt will have each of one. Below we’ll look at them individually as well as some red flags to keep in mind.

5 Qualities of Reliable Health Information

“T” for Timeliness

Trustworthy websites review and update their content — and let their readers know.

It’s estimated

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This blog originally appeared on HealthWeb Navigator, a new site by NeedyMeds.  It has reviews of health-related websites to help you find the best, most medically reliable information. You can see the beta version of HealthWeb Navigator at www.healthwebnav.org.

 

What is HealthWeb Navigator and How Does It Work?

HealthWeb Navigator (HWN) directs you to health care websites that provide up-to-date and clear information. HWN resembles a guidebook that recommends the best places to visit on the Web.

Our staff constantly searches the Internet to find health care websites that appear useful to consumers. Our external review panel then evaluates any promising websites. These unpaid volunteers have backgrounds in health care, business, education, consumerism and patient advocacy.

Each website is scored by several reviewers on content, readability, usability and design. Based on this evaluation, the website is assigned a final rating of one to five stars.

Websites listed in HWN are constantly evaluated for content and maintenance of quality.

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