Health Informatics Graduate Improves Access to Health Information

The Internet has proven to be a powerful resource for health care information; it allows health care professionals to connect with patients from all over the world at the convenience of a click. The Internet is also a breeding ground for predatory health care websites that are full of false, misleading information that have the potential to harm rather than help, especially in areas that have low health literacy such as the Philippines.

Cristine Ongson, Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) 2012 graduate, who came to SLU as an international student from the Philippines, recognized the danger lurking in cyberspace concerning health information. Ongson wanted to create a website that provided accurate, up-to-date information for uninformed users. For her MSHI senior capstone project, she developed HealthLink, a community website managed by licensed health professionals that serves as a hub for health information, trivia, advisories, bulletins, upcoming events, tips, and technology to promote Filipino health literacy, awareness and disease prevention.

"In a world where health information is one "google" search away, anyone can post any information and claim it to be legitimate. I chose this project because as a health professional, I have encountered many situations where patients inadvertently harm themselves with self-medication or home remedies, based on incorrect or incomplete health information they retrieved from the web, said Ongson. "I wanted to create a website that is designed, created and 

maintained by health professionals, while providing relevant information from the health professionals themselves, and by posting information from other trustworthy, legitimate and official health websites."

Ongson pulled together health care professionals, colleagues, friends, classmates, professors and mentors to create a highly qualified resource pool of content writers with the breadth of knowledge needed to engage users. Ongson then partnered with Online Philippines, a digital marketing company, who assisted with graphic and website design to develop the look and feel of the website.

Ongson hopes that HealthLink, which is currently under construction and will launch in the coming months, will connect Filipino users with information from all over the world. When asked what she is most proud of, Ongson said, "I am proud to bring the era of digital health care to the Philippines."

For more information on the Master of Science in Health Informatics, click here.
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