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Federal health information Web site upgraded (9/23)

September 23, 2008
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An improved and more accessible version of healthfinder.gov, a federal Web site designed to help people stay healthy, was launched today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to a recent agency press release.

Its new design and interactive health management tools make information resources more accessible and easier to use for consumers and professionals.

“Many Americans struggle with complex health information Web sites. Healthfinder.gov makes important prevention information more accessible for all Americans, including those with limited time or understanding of medical terms,”said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Joxel Garcia, M.D. “We are proud to present healthfinder.gov as another tool for helping Americans stay healthy.”

Healthfinder.gov’s features include links to over 6,000 government and nonprofit health information resources on hundreds of health topics. Information is in English and Spanish. The improvements will help users find what they want on those sites.

For instance, Healthfinder.gov’s Quick Guide to Healthy Living uses everyday language and examples to:
  • Tell users how taking small steps to improve health can lead to big benefits;
  • Motivate users by showing them the benefits of incorporating healthy behaviors into their lives;
  • Provide tools and encouragement, such as personal health calculators, menu planners and recipes, tips for caregivers, and printable lists of questions to take to the doctor.
Another new tool offered on the site is myhealthfinder, which provides personalized recommendations for clinical preventive services specific to the user’s age, gender, and pregnancy status.

Based on their profiles, users may receive anywhere from five to 15 recommendations. For example, two of the recommendations a 35-year-old man would receive include getting blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Two of the recommendations a 54-year-old woman would receive include getting tested for colorectal cancer and talking with her doctor about taking low-dose aspirin every day to help lower her risk of stroke.

This feature was developed through a joint effort between HHS’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The feature provides evidence-based recommendations from the AHRQ-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care.

“Health professionals have benefited from online access to task force recommendations for years. Until now, consumers have not had the same advantage,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “We are pleased to join with ODPHP to offer myhealthfinder as a personalized, evidence-based prevention decision support tool.”

The redesign of healthfinder.gov was based on proven clear communication practices. In addition, several possible versions of the Web site and the new prevention content were consumer tested to ensure that the site is user friendly and that people can find what they are looking for. As a result, healthfinder.gov is easy to understand and navigate, especially for consumers with limited health literacy.

Since 1997, healthfinder.gov has been recognized as a key resource for finding the best government and nonprofit health information on the Internet. It has been certified by HONcode, the oldest and the most used ethical and trustworthy code for medical and health related information available on Internet. It has also been recognized by the Medical Library Association as one of the top 10 most useful Web sites for consumers.

The healthfinder.gov project is coordinated by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and its National Health Information Center, with the participation of a steering committee of representatives from federal agencies, including consumer health information specialists, librarians, and others actively engaged in providing online consumer health information.

For more information, please visit www.healthfinder.gov and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and its National Health Information Center at http://odphp.osophs.dhhs.gov.

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