Health on the Net Foundation - HON

Health on the Net Foundation (HON) is a non profit organization, founded in 1995 and based in Switzerland. Their stated mission is to help both laypersons and medical practitioners find useful and reliable medical and health information online. The foundation came out of a conference entitled "The Use of the Internet and World-Wide Web for Telematics in Healthcare." There were 60 participants from 11 countries. The conference concluded with a unanimous vote to create a permanent body that would "promote the effective and reliable use of the new technologies for telemedicine in healthcare around the world". HON serves as a portal to medical information on the internet; it has two widely-used medical search tools (MedHunt and HONselect) in addition to the HON Code of conduct.

The HoN Foundation's Code of Conduct, referred to as the HONcode, for medical and health websites deals with the reliability and usefulness of medical information on the internet. The code simply states whether a site holds to the standards, so "readers can know the source and purpose of the medical information presented." There is some so-called controversy over having the HON logo on a website as it can be used without the website currently complying with all the guidelines. The enforcement aspect of the code is up to each website to abide by and to represent accurately whether or not they are in compliance with the code. But using the HON website itself is one method to search for medical and health information.

The principles of the HONcode are:
1. Authority - information and advice given only by medical professionals, or a clear statement if this is not the case
2. Complementarity - information and help are to support, not replace, patient-healthcare professional relationships which is the desired means of contact
3. Confidentiality
4. Attribution - references to source of information (URL if available online)
5. Justifiability - any treatment, product or service must be supported by balanced, well-referenced scientific information
6. Transparency of authorship - contact information, preferably including email addresses, of authors should be available
7. Transparency of sponsorship
8. Honesty in advertising and editorial policy

HON is a source and a service in the health care field. It provides a means to search as well as to, as much as it can, regulate important medical and health information with the mission to improve the quality and ease of information retrieval for anyone and everyone who would be interested. It has its two medical search tools, MedHunt and HONselect, for public use and has become a very highly respected not for profit organization in the health care fields.

Web Resources:
HON Website

Related Terminology:
Code of Conduct

HON Website
Wikipedia: Health on the Net Foundation