URAC Approves First 13 Health Web Sites Under New Accreditation Program
Thirteen of the nation's "largest and busiest" health Web sites, including those run by WebMD and the Health Insurance Association of America, received URAC accreditation this week, Reuters reports. URAC is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits managed care companies and other health care organizations. The sites were the first to be approved through URAC's new health Web site accreditation program, which requires compliance with 53 standards, from security and privacy guidelines to rules for managing content. For example, operators of accredited sites are required to tell users how the site will use the personal information they provide and who else will have access to the information. The standards require all health content to be reviewed by physicians. Site operators are also required to disclose any commercial sponsorship and provide evidence that recommended products or therapies are effective. URAC President Garry Carneal said that 40 sites have applied for accreditation and are working to meet the standards. Carneal said, "Almost every applicant had to make some changes. That is one purpose of accreditation -- to help companies identify where to improve" (Fox, Reuters English News Service, 12/12). Some critics of URAC's accreditation process expressed concern that some sites that represent "alternative or controversial approaches to health care" could be denied the seal of approval. But Guy D'Andrea, senior vice president of URAC, said, "Our goal is to provide consumers with one more bit of information to make intelligent decisions. We don't hold ourselves out as the only arbiter" (Brannigan, Wall Street Journal, 12/14).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.