INTERNET ETHICS: Committee to Develop Certification Standards
To create a system of ehealth conduct codes that the public can easily understand, Health Internet Ethics, Health On the Net Foundation and Internet Healthcare Coalition will form the eHealth Ethics Initiative. To allow ehealth customers to compare "security and privacy statements" easily, the committee will establish a "glossary of definitions and terms" for Web site verification and compliance. By creating "universal descriptions" on health Web sites, the committee hopes to allow customers to make "informed decisions" when using the Internet for health care needs. Eventually, the committee hopes to form standards of practice for Internet health care companies. Donald Kempher, chair of Hi-Ethics and CEO of Healthwise Inc., said, "All three organizations share the same purpose -- to earn the trust of the ehealth consumer. In a rapidly evolving industry, it is especially important to create standards that will result in clarity to consumers." In addition to establishing consistency in language, the committee may examine certification programs and a "variety of seals" of approval. Health On the Net Foundation Executive Director Timothy Nater said, "Each of our organizations has helped to substantially elevate the standards of health information on the Internet." He added, "It makes good sense to further our progress by working together and sharing our insight and expertise on this important issue" (Internet Healthcare Coalition release, 10/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.