In 2003, staff at the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC) (formerly the American Accreditation Healthcare Commission) and Consumer Web Watch developed and published recommendations for improving online consumer searches for health information.
URAC and Consumer Web Watch staff produced a report entitled Setting the Public Agenda for Online Health Search: A White Paper and Action Agenda.
The report summarized research, identified gaps in understanding and highlighted recommendations for improving the results of online consumer searches for health information.
Key recommendations from the abstract of an article in the electronic Journal of Medical Internet Research are:
Research is needed both to define quality elements of Web sites that could be used by search engines and to understand the needs of different types of consumers.
Technological research should develop more sophisticated approaches for tagging information, for example, to develop searches that "learn" from consumer behavior.
Educational initiatives are needed to help consumers search more effectively and critically evaluate the information they find on the Web.