LiverTox - a new, free health information portal for citizens

A new web site was just launched by the U.S. government called LiverTox.  This free site provides up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessed information on the diagnosis, cause, frequency, patterns, and management of liver injury attributable to prescription and nonprescription medications, herbals and dietary supplements. The U.S. government also operates,,,,, MedLine Plus, and many other free health information portals.

Have you checked them out?

In addition to these free health information portals, the U.S. government is aggressively working to help the country put in place electronic health record (EHR) systems, personal health records (PHR), health information exchange (HIE) networks, and many other health information technologies (IT) and solutions that will transform how healthcare will be provided in this country in the future.  Yet most citizens or healthcare consumers across the U.S. have a very limited understanding of health IT and, frankly, don't really understand why it should be of any concern to them.

The government, healthcare providers, health IT vendors, and news organizations ought to try a little harder to tell citizens about the transformation that is about to occur as these new technologies go into place. Many of the concerns, policies, and solutions currently being raised and debated by politicians reflect their lack of understanding about the tremendous impact these new technologies will have on healthcare in the relatively near future.  

Here are some key points that need to be communicated to healthcare consumers:

  • Consumers need to establish and start using a free and open source personal health record (PHR). It's as important as your online personal bank account. In fact, your health may be more important to you than your money. How many times have you needed to know what prescriptions you're on, shots you had, surgical procedures, allergies, family medical histories, and more.
  • Consumers ought to make sure their doctor's office is using an electronic health record (EHR) system. It's a sign of your doctor's commitment and ability to practice high quality modern medicine. Are they still handing you a clip board and asking you to check boxes related to you health? Do they have lots of paper files on the shelf behind the receptionist? If they have automated your bill payment, why not your health records.
  • What is a health information exchange (HIE) network and why is it needed? You need an HIE to move data from your healthcare provider's EHR to your PHR. An HIE network can be used to enable email and information exchange between doctors and their patients. Every state and health care community should be connected to an HIE network.
  • Today's consumers need access to mobile health apps (mHealth) to help you with specific medical problems or health issues, e.g. diabetes, weight, blood pressure, etc.  Many of these health apps are now available for free and work on most vendor's smartphones.
  • Citizens also need access to free, high quality health information and education materials, especially as we move into an era of preventive medicine and self-care.  As mentioned at the beginning of this article, many of these tools, web sites, and information sources are already available. 

For information about the many government web sites providing free information and tools to the public, go to the Health Information Portals page on the Open Health News (OHN) web site.