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Poll: Almost 1-in-4 duped by unverified online medical advice

BY David Salazar

KENILWORTH, N.J. — A new survey from Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Manuals is highlighting the potential dangers of the vast amount of medical information on the Internet. The survey found that 24% of Americans have been misled by information about a symptom or illness because of an unverified online source. Among parents with children younger than 18, 30% have been misled, and 43% of millennials have been, too. 

“Clicking the first article that pops up in an online search may be the easiest course when researching health issues, but it can also be dangerous if the information doesn't come from a credible source,” Merck Manuals editor-in-chief Dr. Robert Porter said. “These results underscore the need for greater access to and awareness of highly credible health information.” 

In response to the survey data, Merck Manuals and its international counterpart MSD Manuals have developed a credibility test called the STANDS method. It includes: 

  • Source: Does the article or website cite authorities and have credentials?
  • Transparent: Is it clear whether it is an education or commercial site?
  • Accessible: Do you have to register, and is there contact info if users have concerns?
  • Neutral: Is it a resource or is the information only given in exchange for users buying products or visiting advertised websites?
  • Documented: Do medical experts update the resource?
  • Secure: Can the content be accessed without sharing personal information? 

The push for people to know whether they’re trusting credible sources for health information is part of the Manuals’ Global Medical Knowledge 202 initiative, which is pushing to make accurate and up-to-date medical information available to three billion people by 2020.

“The Internet will continue to be flooded with new health information and websites, which is why we need to stress to consumers the importance of identifying credible health information sources,” Porter said.

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Shoppers Drug Mart loyalty program celebrates 15 years

BY Michael Johnsen

TORONTO – Shoppers Drug Mart is celebrating the 15th birthday of the Shoppers Optimum loyalty program with a huge outdoor party at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Shoppers will be invited to join the party and step inside a life-size Shoppers Optimum confetti globe for a chance to win prizes, including an all-inclusive sun-filled vacation. 
 
Visitors will also enjoy live entertainment (aerialists), birthday treats (popcorn and confetti cupcakes) and receive a birthday loot bag.
 
The Toronto event is a preview to Shoppers Optimum's 15-day national celebration (#15DaysofHappy) that runs from Oct. 10 to Oct. 24 with in-store promotions and contests to win products, points and luxury vacations from Sunwing and Royalton Luxury Resorts.
 
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Walmart to host ‘America’s Biggest Health Fair’

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is planning to hold what it said will be “America's Biggest Health Fair” across 4,400 locations on the afternoon of Oct. 10, the company announced Tuesday. Given Walmart's expansive reach and the number of complementary health screenings being provided, the company expects to uncover as many as 3,000 cases of diabetes over the course of the day and 7,000 incidences of high blood pressure.

“Customer behavior is changing,” Michelle Gloeckler, EVP consumables and health and wellness divisions and U.S. manufacturing lead for Walmart U.S., told journalists Tuesday morning. “Customers are taking an active role in their personal health, researching things online and overall, wathching for ways to live better.”

On Oct. 10, Walmart will provide free blood glucose, blood pressure, vision screenings and product samples. In addition, more than 10,000 of Walmart’s pharmacists will offer immunizations in select stores. Walmart expects to see record-breaking numbers during the single-day health fair, with hundreds of thousands of screenings and immunizations projected.

In addition to screenings and immunizations, Walmart will have Jackson Hewitt licensed insurers on hand at some 250 locations to help customers identify the best insurance plans for them, whether they are shopping for a plan in a Health Exchange or looking for their best Medicare option.

The customer open enrollment program, Healthcare Begins Here, will be available Oct. 15, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016 in more than 2,400 Walmart stores, online and via phone.

Walmart last year launched its program with DirectHealth.com to launch Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options. DirectHealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site which is an independent licensed health insurance agency, will provide a resource that brings Walmart customers unprecedented access to health insurance information and enrollment support.

“What we're seeing is enormous payer interest and support around [health insurance education],” Marcus Osborne, VP third party contracting at Walmart, said. “Consumers who aren't happy with their health plan selection because they didn't have all the information up front is bad for the health plans and their brands. A consumer who is better informed about their health … that puts them in a better position to better leverage their health plan to improve their health. We have gotten enormous support from the health plans and [this] will improve our ability to partner with them in the future.”

To help customers manage their health whenever and wherever they are, Walmart has also revamped its Health & Wellness page on Walmart.com to focus on solutions that highlight products across multiple categories.

“We have a long history of making healthcare more affordable and accessible for our customers,” Gloeckler added. “Our $4 prescription program changed the industry and drove down healthcare costs. Our Care Clinics and Vision Centers are creating new price positions for retail health services and giving communities expanded access to services they need to live healthier lives.”

In addition to its health care efforts, as the nation’s largest grocer, Walmart is working to make healthier food accessible and affordable. Last year, according to the company, customers saved more than $1.09 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables and Walmart exceeded its goal of opening 275 – 300 stores serving designated food desert areas a full year ahead of schedule.

Today, Walmart says it offers more than 1,700 organic products, nearly 10% of which are organic produce items, and brings customers new, healthier options by working with national brands and innovating within its own private label assortment. 

In 2011, Walmart set out to reduce the sodium, added sugar and industrially produced trans fats in its private brands, including Great Value, as well as national brands. Through 2014, the company has reduced added sodium in the foods sold in its stores by 16%, reduced added sugars by more than 10% and now less than 6% of its products contain industrially produced transfats.

If successful, Walmart will host its second "America's Biggest Health Fair" in January, Gloeckler said.

 

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