Explaining the evidence: Informedhealthonline.org
To provide information on healthcare topics in an evidence-based and comprehensible manner – this is the goal of informedhealth.org, IQWiG’s website for consumers and patients. The website has been online since 2006.
Starting with about 50 texts in 2006, to date over 1100 have been published. New or updated content is published on the website every 2 weeks. In parallel a newsletter is sent to nearly 10,000 subscribers. The texts, graphs and films published on informedhealth.org are arousing more and more interest each year. The monthly number of users increased from 42,000 in the start-up year 2006 to 260,000 in 2013.
The legal remit that IQWiG is to fulfil with its website for consumers and patients in concisely described in §139a of Social Code Book V:
“Provision of easily understandable information for all patients and consumers on the quality and efficiency of health care services, as well as on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of substantial epidemiological relevance.”
The ambitious goal of being easily understandable for all consumers and patients can, however, only be reached approximately and in a step-by-step process. This is because some issues in medicine cannot be easily simplified.
Topics are obtained from 3 sources. Firstly, IQWiG prepares texts commissioned by the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) and the Federal Ministry of Health, for example, the fact sheets on “diabetes in pregnancy” or “ultrasound”. In addition, IQWiG prepares easily understandable summaries of its benefit assessments. However, the core area of the work is based on the so-called general commission, which IQWiG received from the G-BA in 2004. According to this, IQWiG independently prepares and updates a comprehensive catalogue of topics and makes it publicly available on informedhealthonline.org.
Goals for the next years
In the medium term, IQWiG would like to provide information on over 200 relevant diseases on informedhealth.org. In this context, the focus is on diseases that are the most common reasons for visiting a doctor. Considering the almost infinite number of questions on health to which sick and healthy people are seeking answers, the number of 200 seems small. However, these diseases are responsible for considerably more than half of the reasons for medical treatments in Germany. As it is part of the concept to evaluate, after 3 years at the latest, whether the information is still correct, more topics are not possible. The aspiration to stay up to date also applies to other providers who wish to make “good” information available. For this reason it is meaningful to network with other providers of evidence-based health information in order to supplement each other. There are thus enough goals to achieve over the next ten years.