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Inside Health Care: Trusted Sources?


Healthcare journalists Gary Schwitzer and Pia Christensen sound off this week on a new type of advertising rolling out on websites like and others, such as Yahoo Health, AOL Health,, and Everyday Health. Called in-text advertising, health terms within an article are hyperlinked and when a cursor is placed over the keyword, a small window appears where a drug ad may be displayed or other content. Is it effective marketing? MediaPost News reports, 'Half a dozen pharmaceutical companies have been testing the unit during the beta period. So far, click-through rates have been as high as 2.5% to 3.5% according to, which would be well above typical banner response rates of under 1%.' How do you feel about this new advertising built into health information?

Oncologist, professor and journalist, Dr. Elaine Schattner, M.D., on Medical Lessons blog describes the Health-on-the-Net Seal, placed on websites to indicate a medically trustworthy source. Health On the Net Foundation (HON), a non-profit, non-government organization, is the creator of the seal. Dr. Schattner reports that HON has certified 64 cites and inspected 292 websites in the past 30 days. The HONcode site evaluation form has a series of questions to determine the trustworthiness of a website including questions related to advertising, such as whether 'separation between editorial content and advertising is clearly stated.' is HON-code certified. Will it remain?

Sharecare, has also created a large buzz with its recent launching. The interactive health and wellness site allows visitors 'to ask, learn and act upon information from trusted healthcare experts.' Oprah calls it a 'revolutionary new website' where you can 'type in a question and get immediate and trustworthy answers from top medical experts, all over the world.' Who are these medical experts? Experts include people from AARP, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, John Hopkins, and health professionals. An earlier New York Times article identifies that amongst the long list includes 'knowledge partners,' who are 'marketers that pay $1 million to $7 million to become sponsors of Sharecare.''  This includes companies like Colgate-Palmolive, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals division of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, UnitedHealthcare, and Walgreens. Information provided by these 'knowledge partners' will be labeled with their logo. Dan Dunlop, a healthcare marketer and advertiser, writes on his blog, An Unhealthy Alliance?, 'This seems to be crossing a line for a venue that is seeking to be a quality health information resource for consumers.' What do you think?

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Inside Health Care posts feature recent news and blog posts from the health care community and are part of the Center for Advancing Health’s portfolio of free, evidence-based coverage of what it takes to find good care and make the most of it.

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Evidence-Based Medicine   CFAH Staff   Sarah Jorgenson   Seek Knowledge about your Health   Inside Healthcare  

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