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 example, returns tens of millions of results in less than a second. The first few pages alone contain warnings about migraines, poisoning, stroke, and brain tumors. There is now a term for the anxiety caused by online self-diagnosis: “cyberchondria.”
HealthWeb Navigator’s reviews assess the accuracy, credibility, and usability of each website in its growing collection. Visitors can search for specific health topics to find trustworthy websites, or they can verify sites they already use.
“We want to eliminate the guesswork,” Kelley added. “Our expert reviewers show you which websites are credible and why.”
Each review is written collaboratively by a team of medical professionals with backgrounds in clinical practice, research, patient advocacy, and public policy. There are currently over 50 different reviewers working for HealthWeb Navigator, with multiple reviewers assigned to every website. All website reviewers have practiced medicine at the level of nurse practitioner or higher. They also undergo training on how to spot outdated or misleading information online.
HealthWeb Navigator’s collection of reviews expands daily and includes hundreds of vetted health resources focusing on diseases, health insurance, doctors and hospitals, prescription medicine, pediatrics, and women’s health, among others.
“We want people to feel empowered when researching their health online,” said NeedyMeds president Rich Sagall, M.D., “not helpless.”
And for doctors and patients who already have a list of websites they trust? “Hopefully they can find credible resources they might not have heard of otherwise and recommend them to others,” Sagall said.
Staying up-to-date on the latest reviews is as easy as checking HealthWeb Navigator’s homepage or following them on Twitter and Facebook. Users can even submit websites for HealthWeb Navigator to review.