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Questions about the Health On the Net Foundation

How and when was Health on the Net created?

The origin of Health On the Net Foundation goes back to September 7-8, 1995, when some of the world's foremost experts on telemedicine gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for a conference entitled The Use of the Internet and World-Wide Web for Telematics in Healthcare.

The 60 participants came from 11 countries. They included US heart surgeon Dr Michael DeBakey, physicians and professors, researchers and senior representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the European Commission, the National Library of Medicine and the G7-Global Healthcare Applications Project.

As the conference wound up, they unanimously voted to create a permanent body that would, in the words of the programme, "promote the effective and reliable use of the new technologies for telemedicine in healthcare around the world."

HON's site went live six months later. On March 20, 1996, became one of the very first URLs to guide both lay users and medical professionals to reliable sources of healthcare information in cyberspace. Among HON's distinguishing features are two widely-used medical search tools, MedHunt© ( and HONselect© ( ), and the HON Code of Conduct (HONcode© ) for the provision of authoritative, trustworthy Web-based medical information.

What is the mission of Health on the Net (HON)? What role do you think it plays in an emerging technological society?

The mission of Health On the Net Foundation is to help people combat disease and enjoy healthy lives by offering practical guidance to certified medical information and support on the Internet. In this way, we hope to contribute to better, more accessible and cost-effective healthcare for all.

We believe that the international issue addressed by HON since 1996 -- the provision of authoritative, trustworthy Web-based medical information -- is a major one and we will definitely play a key role.

How is HON supported?

We are supported by the State of Geneva, the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the University Hospitals of Geneva (cash and material input). Sun Microsystems donated our servers (material input only). This year we will expand and diversify our sources of funding, but will remain not-for-profit and will keep all our services free at the point of use.

What organizations back HON? Why should the public trust HON's authority?

Large organizations such as the Mayo Clinic supports us. Their Web site ran a recent interview.

How many people work at the Health On Net Foundation? Do you have specialists all over the world?

Five people work full time at HON and two part-time. We also have an active and illustrious Council and Advisory Board and we depend on friends all over the world for help, information, news, comments and suggestions.

The profile of the people that visit your site?

Our Web user profile is wide, and our users are about half patients, half medical professionals. Most are aged 40 years and older. Over 60 per cent live in the United States. And most are women: in the USA, well over 60 per cent of our users are female!

Does HON have any sponsors or are we completely a non-profit foundation?

HON is a not-for profit Foundation and HON is a non-governmental organization working on the issues of the quality and accessibility of online health and medical information since 1996. The research activities accomplished by the Foundation are conducted in European projects funded by the European Commission. More information is available in the following section: In addition, other not-for-profit foundations support us in the development of various projects, such as the Provisu Foundation where we developed a platform for eye disease prevention and promotion. More details on our funding sources is available at:

Are you affiliated with any global organization?

We are working with many organizations, more information at: I would like to emphasize the collaboration with the French government. HON is the official organization witch has been mandated to certify all French health Websites. France is the first country in the world that decided to follow the WHO e-Health resolution developed in 2005 and the European Commission e-Health recommendation published in 2002.

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