HHS gets WebMD channel

MedlinePlus

Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have announced a nine-month pilot project with WebMD Corp. to provide better access to consumer health information, along with news and tips during public health crises.

By linking to the WebMD Health site at http://hhs.webmd.com, HHS officials hope to reach a broader audience. Federal officials said the partnership is intended to educate consumers about health care and health in general, whether it's how to read a food label or how to talk with a doctor.

"The Web has become an important tool for government to communicate with its citizens, and this new partnership with WebMD will greatly expand our ability to empower Americans through the Web to improve their health and prevent disease," said HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson in a press release. "In the event that a major public health emergency ever confronts our nation, this new partnership also will help us get potentially life-saving information out to the public as quickly as possible. This is one more way we are building our biodefense preparedness."

Officials will select health content related to national priorities and relevant to consumers. Participating HHS agencies include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The first topics will include physical activities, nutrition, preventive screenings and diabetes. The information will also be available through WebMD Health partner sites, including MSN Health (http://health.msn.com) and AOL Health (http://aolsvc.health.webmd.aol.com/home/default).

HHS also offers consumer health information through a government site called MedlinePlus, which was created and is maintained by NIH's National Library of Medicine. That site offers more than 650 health topic pages, information from more than 850 organizations and more than 15,000 links to health information.

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