- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2000

LaurusHealth.com has built upon the reputations of 300 community-based hospitals to develop a Web site offering "better health through information." With hundreds of articles in dozens of categories, the site gives consumers access to an array of credible national health information and local health resources.

Site address:

www.laurushealth.com

Creator:

LaurusHealth.com was created by VHA Inc., a nationwide alliance of more than 1,900 community-owned health care organizations and their physicians based in Irving, Texas.

Creator quotable:

"We designed LaurusHealth.com to help consumers make more informed choices about their health," says Dr. Peter Plantes, LaurusHealth medical director. "We are committed to helping our member hospitals and physicians improve the health of their communities. Research confirms that health care consumers want to access the new health care tools of the Internet from their traditional, trusted sources their doctors and their hospital."

Word from the Webwise:

From helping users locate a physician or care facility to listing daily health information, LaurusHealth.com offers a robust environment for finding answers to common and obscure questions a person might have.
In addition to tapping into community hospitals and physicians, the site has culled information from content partners such as Rock Hill Press, a publishing group that specializes in providing information to consumers, schools and libraries; Healthwise Inc., an award-winning educational and scientific organization founded in 1975 to help people stay healthy; and Reuters Health, one of the largest news agencies in the world.
The front page underwhelms with a standard three-column format the right side for access to the major sections (Health News, Health Library, Health Topics and Healthy Living); the left side for special features, such as a report on "weekend warriors"; and the middle for major pieces, such as tips on preventing osteoporosis.
I was not in dire need of medical information, so I started by reading Today's Headlines, a section found at the center of the page, featuring top medical news from around the world. One obscure tidbit relayed the findings of a team of Israeli researchers that found drinking about half a glass of pomegranate juice every day may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
A quick stop by the Health News section revealed a wide range of areas to investigate, including the National Library of Medicine's database, a National Observance area highlighting awareness campaigns such as May's Better Hearing and Speech Month, and pieces written by LaurusHealth doctors.
The current item by the physicians, "FDA, Other Government Agencies Take Aim at E-mail Health Scares," investigates some of the "urban legend" health scares that quickly pass around the Internet. A recent cyber-scare claimed 15,000 Americans were at risk of getting a nasty flesh-eating bacteria from shipments of tainted Costa Rican bananas.
The health library is filled to the brim with the latest on FDA approvals, with profiles of the latest drugs, information on more than 2,400 pharmaceuticals and a Medical Tests area containing information on the risks and normal-range responses for more than 200 procedures.
Of course, the obligatory Ask the Doctor section also can be found, where visitors can submit their own inquires. It was nice to see that each answer included not only a brief biography on the responding physician, but also a photo.
After taking in the front page, visitors will want to look a bit deeper into the meticulously categorized pages of information. Health Topics, for example, covers subjects from asthma to senior stress, and the Healthy Living area covers issues including exercise and diet.
Finally, all articles, questions, answers, papers and reports are archived on the site, giving visitors a voluminous place to find past articles and health-management tools. Each archive subject begins with bullet points explaining what information the user can expect to find.
For example, the introduction to the Alzheimer's disease section explains that the segment includes up-to-date statistics, risk factors for disease developments, warning signs and symptoms, disease prevention, information on living with a loved one who has Alzheimer's, alternative therapies and medical management. The segment then displays 24 articles under various headings.

Ease of use:

A hierarchical organization of articles makes it easy for visitors to pinpoint quickly the information they need. The site loads quickly, with no annoying banner advertising and a minimum of flash and graphics. Because a search can bring up one to dozens of articles, it can take a while to get a response to a request, but it usually is worth the wait.

Don't miss:

Product Recalls, found under Health News on the lower right-hand corner of the front page. It lists manufacturers' latest releases on defective baby equipment, toys, exercise equipment and food.
Clicking on baby equipment, I learned that a pair of Nike Air Jordan shoes with red trim I have for my son may present a lead-poisoning hazard. The site outlines how to return or replace the product and gives a link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) for more details.

Information grade: A

Have a cool site about science or health 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 e-mail to joseph@twtmail.com.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide