Health Information on the Web

In yesterday's London Telegraph, there was a story on how the NHS had a new website that was meant to help people understand their health risk. As the story describes, your risk was more of a function of where you lived (i.e., your post code), than your lifestyle or genetics. A 40-year old woman living in central London was most likely to be hospitalized for breast cancer, but if she moved to Manchester, it would be for gynecological issues. Interesting, but useless from an individual decision making point of view. Or, as it was put in the story," the British Medical Association (BMA), accused the Government of offering patients 'totally misleading and useless' information which only increases anxiety."

The article brings up once more the issue of the Web and its value in providing health information, as well as whether this information really informs or worse mis-informs patients when they are trying to understand the risk(s) of a particular disease or treatment. There is an intersection of IT as information purveyor, health care, business and ethics, and risk analysis and management that has not been well explored, but definitely needs to be.

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