WEB STANDARDS: URAC Panel To Develop Health Site Accreditation Guidelines
Responding to the "proliferation of Internet-based health and medical portals," Washington, D.C.-based URAC, formerly called the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission, has formed an advisory committee that will develop standards for accrediting health Web sites, Reuters Health reports. The 27- member panel will look at a variety of issues ranging "from privacy and professionalism to candor and accountability" when developing standards for accreditation. Dr. Margaret Winkle, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and a committee member, said, "Health and medical information on the Web has huge potential to benefit patients and the public, but inaccurate and biased information and potential breaches of patient privacy may cause more harm than good. We need to find ways to improve the quality of medical information on the Web and give users the information about Web sites they need to make an informed choice" (Reuters Health, 9/29). The committee, comprised of representatives from "bricks and mortar" health companies, Web- based health companies, providers, information security experts, legal experts and consumer representatives, will draft a set of standards over the next few months that will be released for public review and comment. URAC estimates that finalized standards will be ready by spring of 2001, with implementation to follow later that year. URAC President and CEO Garry Carneal said the new Web standards will be added to URAC's existing accreditation standards for health plans to "promote quality and protect consumers in different health care settings" (URAC release, 9/28).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.