Hi-Ethics, Inc., or Health Internet Ethics, is committed to ensuring that consumers can confidently realize the Internet's potential to improve their health and that of their families. Hi-Ethics unites the most widely used consumer health Internet sites and information providers whose goal is to earn the consumer's trust and confidence in Internet health services. By establishing the highest ethical standards, Hi-Ethics member companies can have a swift and direct impact on improving consumers' Internet health experiences.
Hi-Ethics companies will provide online health services that reflect high quality and ethical standards, and to that end they are dedicated to meeting the goals of:
- Providing health information that is secure and trustworthy;
- Clearly identifying online advertising and disclosing sponsorships or other financial relationships that significantly affect our content or services;
- Keeping personal information private and secure, and employing special precautions for any personal health information; and
- Empowering consumers to distinguish online health services that follow our principles from those that do not.
The Internet provides unprecedented potential for improving personal health. Through the Internet, people can greatly improve their knowledge about their illness and help their doctors reach a more accurate diagnosis. Consumers can better:
- Understand their treatment options and make more informed treatment decisions;
- Communicate with doctors, family members and others facing similar health concerns;
- Select and conveniently purchase medical services and products to meet their needs.
The Internet is a phenomenal resource for improving personal health and healthcare. However, for the unprepared consumer, there also may be risks. Risks include inaccurate or undisclosed biased information, or abuse of personal information. Internet users deserve the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the health Internet without these risks. The Hi-Ethics principles and the URAC Health Web Site Accreditation Program helps Web sites implement ethical standards in a broad range of areas including:
- Privacy Policies in Conformance with Fair Information Practices
- Enhanced Privacy Protection for Health-Related Personal Information
- Safeguarding Consumer Privacy in Health Web site's Relationship with Third Parties
- Disclosure of Ownership and Financial Sponsorship
- Identifying Advertising and Health Information Content Sponsored by Third Parties
- Promotional Offers, Rebates and Free Items or Services
- Accuracy and Reliability of Health Information Content; Editorial Policy
- Authorship and Accountability
- Disclosure of Source and Validation for Assessment Services
- Professional Policies on the Internet
- Transparency of Interactions, Candor and Trustworthiness
- Disclosure of Limitations – Mechanism for Consumer Feedback
The URAC Health Web Site Accreditation Program, based on the Hi-Ethics principles, provides the Internet user with the consumer protection they deserve while providing Web sites with a clear set of rules that can be successfully and accountably implemented.