Sunday, March 7, 2010

WebMD- a critique key aspects

Authority/Source – This website is considered a credible consumer knowledge repository for health information. In spite of its affiliation with multiple products and services the website had insisted on its unbiased provision of trustworthy and accurate health information that is both practical and relevant.
Accuracy – Reaction from WebMD readers (hopefully not filtered) suggest that the information that they came across are consistent with the information from the other reliable sites such as National Institute of Health, Medline and the Mayo Clinic.
Credibility - The senior staff and editorial team of WebMD is constituted by three physicians whose specialization spans Nutrition, Heartburn, Epilepsy and Weight control. The process of ensuring the relevance and credibility of content in other areas is not transparent to the consumers. It is left for each consumer’s imagination as to why the current specialties were chosen to fill the editorial team.
Objectivity/Content – WebMD insists that information that it provides is not a substitute for professional healthcare. Since the references to the information on this site are clearly identified to the consumer, the consumer is aware of the sources.
Currency/Timeliness – WebMD displays the date for most or all of the health information articles. The site appears to be updated regularly.
Structured Access – Amidst all the ads, website is fairly easy to navigate. Consumers seem to be forgiving for the excessive ads for the credible content. The search engine is powerful in bringing the relevant sections. For most of the searches (that can be as simple as "back pain" or as complex like "spondylolysis,") the websites is capable in providing its consumers with information that not only spans just the causes and symptoms but also prevention, medications and treatment options. The search can lead you to videos and other reliable websites as well.
Beyond the “Call of Duty” – WebMD's drug finder is an outstanding tool that helps research a particular prescription or side effects due to a combination of multiple medications. It stretches itself to determine whether a generic brand is a suitable substitute to a name brand.
Overall Impression - First impression of the site can be negative as there is too much information packed into its home page with limited real estate (cluttered with blogs, articles, and advertisements). But once a consumer enters the site with a specific motive, it is apparent that the information is up-to-date, referenced, and credible. The site also provides many links to other known reputable sites for healthcare information. To summarize, in spite of the design flaws of the website its content make up for the lackluster design and make it one of the best consumer health research service provider. WebMD tirelessly works to earn the consumer trust (a critical success factor for Health Information Service Providers). One of the earlier WebMD homepage title tag listed - “WebMD—Trustworthy, Credible, and Timely Health Information.” The current title tag is “WebMD—Better Information Better Health.” May be, WebMD believes that they had earned the consumer trust and they are moving the consumers to its second phase (of a lead player in influencing Health decisions with Better information).

WebMD had scored 3.71 on a 4.0 scale on a Mequoda Website Scorecard in 2005. The Best practices indexes that it scored below an A (4.0) are Relationship Building (C – 2.0), Content Density & Readability (B - 3.0) and Page Load Time (B – 3.0). Please refer the url for details:

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