URAC, formerly called the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission, has appointed an advisory committee to develop standards for accrediting health Web sites. Draft standards will be tested and released for public comment in several months. Final standards are expected to be completed by 2001.

With more and more consumers seeking advice coming from Internet-based health and medical portals, advisory committee members see a need for some sort of stamp of approval to ensure accurate and unbiased information. The committee will consider standards in a variety of areas ranging from privacy and professionalism to candor and accountability.

The committee includes representatives of organizations that have already developed ethical or quality guidelines for health Web sites, such as the Internet Healthcare Coalition, Hi-Ethics and the American Medical Association.