- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2000

Taking care of one's mind and body continues to be a hot topic on the Internet; an avalanche of health-related Web sites beckon consumers to stop by their cyber-houses.
The makers of one such stop, Healthology, have spent three years following the trends in the industry and feel their streaming video programs, combined with a huge reserve of accurate information, make it the best place on the Net to find help on almost any medical topic.

Site address:

www.healthology.com

Creator:

Healthology Inc. is a privately held, New York-based on-line health media company founded in 1997 by two physicians, Dr. Steven Haimowitz and Dr. Matthew Caleb.

Creator quotable:

"Our goal with Healthology was to empower patients by providing them with accessible, trustworthy information on line. We're seeing this vision realized now," says Dr. Haimowitz, the chief executive. "Though the advent of the Internet brought endless possibilities in the way information was distributed, we found that the Web sorely lacked credible health information for patients and consumers seeking guidance and in-depth medical information."

Word from the Webwise:

Healthology's content relies upon an extensive group of health professionals who develop information on a variety of health and medical topics.
As the word "credibility" continues to pop up as a concern of Web denizens, the site's owners not only say they understand that physicians need to be involved in any health site, but have tapped into a network of more than 800 practicing doctors and health professionals.
The eclectic mix of experts includes the head athletic trainer for the National Hockey Leagues' New York Rangers, Harvard Medical School professors, the New York Presbyterian Hospital's medical director, the head of the National Parkinson's Foundation and even Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and 2000 Tour de France champion.
Healthology provides its sources with a variety of outlets text, audio and video to share knowledge, insights and personal stories with visitors.
The site's major claim to fame comes from the production of streaming audio and video Webcast programming. Healthology programs are broadcast both live and on demand and can be viewed using Real Networks and Microsoft's Media Player plug-ins, which configure to various connection speeds.
Usually hosted by professional moderators, such as NY1 health reporter Cheryl Wills or Jo Ann Allen of National Public Radio, the 10-minute snippets cover more than 500 health topics, such as "Treating Sports Injuries," "Acupuncture: Can Needles Heal?," "Osteoporosis in Men," "Alcoholism and the Family" and "Rehabilitation After Stroke."
Viewers can e-mail questions before or after the broadcast and receive answers from the guests, usually with a corresponding e-mail.
Focus reports, another component of the site, are concise and encompass hundreds of areas.
For example, under the heading "Epilepsy," I found "Epilepsy Genetics: A Guide for Patients and Families." In it, Dr. Melodie R. Winawer, an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University and attending neurologist in the comprehensive epilepsy center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, discusses the fears one of her pregnant patients has about her baby developing seizures.
Dr. Winawer presents "General Information About Epilepsy," "Basic Genetic Concepts," "Commonly Asked Questions" and a summary of current findings within an easy-to-understand one-page format.
Finally, Healthology tackles some of the more sensationalistic health topics in the news. Recent and planned future presentations include "Erectile Dysfunction: Why Does It Happen?" "Brain Food: Can You Eat Yourself Smart?" "Tai Chi: The Dance of Health," "The Psychology of Sexual Fetishes" and "Hair Transplantation for Men."

Ease of use:

Healthology's biggest problem comes from having to wait for its viewing audience to catch up with the technology. Webcasting is a great idea, but try to view any type of streaming video with a 28.8, 56k or even T1 connection. A barely 3-inch-wide screen offers very jerky and often pixelated video.
I did appreciate the site's health reports, which are available conveniently on any page through drop-down menus.

Don't miss:

For those who want an up-close-and-personal look into an operating room, Healthology has a nice selection of surgery Webcasts. Anyone nervous about seeing blood or internal organs should avoid the section, but I found operations on laparoscopic gall-bladder removal and hernia repair to be incredibly interesting. Surgeon Mark Reiner of Mount Sinai Hospital takes visitors through the entire process of these procedures, from preparation to closure.

Overall grade:

B+ (The average surfer is not ready for Webcasts.)
Remember: The information on the Internet is changing constantly. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician. Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (joseph@twtmail.com).

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