A number of web pages linked together, accessed via the internet. Websites can include text and multimedia or interactive content, they are incredibly versatile and can be developed in a variety of ways. Websites bring together a number of different features depending upon their purpose, enabling people to find information, to communicate, or to contribute content. A cross section of health websites with widely differing purposes and styles is highlighted below.
- Allows patients carers or staff to input information anonymously which may increase verity of information
- Allows NHS staff to get a snapshot of the patient experience and where this could be improved
Could support a more open culture of trust
- Children first for health is an example of a child-centred site including a ‘dear doc’ Q+A section, A-Z of health, dedicated boys, girls and age-group sections and information about hospital care including a video diary section.
- Health talk online enables patient experience exchange through use of video
- Map of Medicine (for clinicians) and healthguides (for public) site provide access to treatment pathways in an easily accessible graphic format much like a flow chart
- Cancer Help website demonstrates differing approaches to information giving around cancer
- Patient UK provides a wide range of health information in a very simple format; it also has an online forum
- Ivillage is a popular lifestyle portal which features health information
- Teenage health freak and Doctor Ann’s virtual surgery provide information tailored towards teens, an email Q+A section as well as quizzes and surveys add to the interaction on these friendly linked websites
- NHS Direct provides official information on health including a step-by-step self help guide, local service locator, magazine section, health encyclopaedia and an information request service
- NHS Choices provides a magazine style interface with three channels- live well, health A-Z and choose services.
- Whole community websites such as talk2Croydon take a community based standpoint
- Dlife provides a dedicated multimedia lifestyle site for those living with Diabetes
- OPERA (Online Personal Education and Risk Assessment) genetic breast cancer project is due to be launched in 2008 by Cancer Backup. It will be a web based tool providing tailored information which will enable users to seek help or advice more effectively according to their specific personal situation.
- Patient Opinion is a social enterprise website which enables users to log in and rate various service experiences they have.
Benefits and advantages
- Websites are incredibly versatile, and can be tailored to cater for individual groups, for particular access issues, and for different levels of engagement
- The potential number of people accessing websites is increasing as access to internet connections increases
- Simple websites can be extremely cost effective to set up and maintain
- Democracy of access- anybody with basic technical know-how can now set up their own website
- One webpage can easily reach vast numbers of people, unlike one printed page
Risks and disadvantages
- Websites are less likely to be accessed by certain sections of the community or those without internet connections in the home
- Complicated websites can be expensive to develop and maintain
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