| January 12, 2009

Recently came across Health Sciences Online (www.hso.info) which claims "to be the first website to deliver authoritative, comprehensive, free, and ad-free health sciences knowledge."

One can search and browse any health sciences topic from over 50,000 courses, references, guidelines, and other learning resources.  Materials are selected from accredited educational sources including universities, governments, and professional societies, by knowledgeable staff at HSO.

I ran a few searches such as "langerhans cell histiocytosis" and "HER2" for comparison, looking for both rare and far more common terms I might search for new information about.  In general, the searches provided some interesting links which provided useful information that would be clinically relevant for physicians and other health care providers although both came up short compared with relevant data on Google – not for its quantity per se but quality. 

Both searches on Google revealed key information about each term on the first page that would not require much more.  HSO appears to be rich with case-based information randing from case presentations to presentations and is very suitable for quick snapshots and reviews.  Some links from HSO that I commonly saw require additional access to other sites whereas the Google searches provide useful links with easier access to information.  While the initial search page on HSO is ad-free, I think the materials you can access are more limited in terms of "authoritative" and "comprehensive".  Perhaps this will change as its library grows.

The PubMed link on HSO mirrors what you would normally see on the site itself and was quickly accessed.  

From their website:

Health Sciences Online (www.hso.info) has been called “a visionary undertaking” (by former CDC Director Jeff Koplan), is expected to “globally democratize health science knowledge” (by World Bank), and is thought by WHO “to make a considerable contribution to the advancement of e-learning worldwide.”

What is HSO?
HSO launches in September 2008 as a virtual learning center with browse and search functions. HSO provides free, online linkages to a comprehensive collection of top-quality courses and references in medicine, public health, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, basic sciences, and other health sciences disciplines. These materials are donated, hosted, and maintained by our distinguished content partners, so quality is maintained, and materials can be constantly updated.
HSO is a sieve that includes world-class materials (currently numbering >50,000 resources), hand-selected by clinicians and other experts from already-existing reliable sources and resource collections. This includes medical specialty societies, accredited continuing education organizations, governments, and top-ranked universities such as Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Penn, and UCSF.

Who has supported HSO?
Founding collaborators for this site include CDC, World Bank, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the University of British Columbia. HSO is non-profit; funding has been obtained from the Canadian and British Columbian governments, the World Health Organization, NATO’s Science for Peace Program, the Annenberg Physician Training Program, the Ulrich and Ruth Frank Foundation for International Health, and other generous and committed individuals. Health providers and scientists, in training and in practice, have donated thousands of hours, identifying and making materials accessible for HSO users.

What problem is HSO addressing?
Health sciences information and training are vital for health and socioeconomic development, but excellent, free learning resources are difficult to find. In recent years, information and communication technologies, particularly the Internet, have been central to remedying this situation. But there are still significant hurdles to accessing online content. WHO and others have shown that there is an enormous need to identify selective, current, accessible online educational and training resources to promote appropriate care and policies. In our 2007, 11-country pilot, nearly all users indicated that the HSO website will make their work more effective and productive, help them learn, and increase their motivation and interest in learning.

What if I find an error?
Please tell us, and we will thank you.  HSO has a small staff and a mighty mission, and HSO would not exist without many doctors, librarians, public health specialists, technologists and others volunteering thousands of hours.

Have more questions?
Want to help/collaborate/get our help with using HSO? Try searching on HSO [click here], or for more information or to contribute, contact Erica Frank, MD, MPH, HSO Founder/Executive Director, at info@hso.info.

Category: General Healthcare News

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