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Your Health Link: Information the Right Way

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Project Added:
6 January 2016
Last updated:
20 January 2016

Your Health Link: Information the Right Way

Summary

Your Health Link is an online gateway to a broad suite of health information, linking the community, patients, carers, teachers and students to over 500 Australian health-related organisations and services chosen by health professionals. Through accessible website design and a comprehensive linking program, Your Health Link has enabled 90.5% of users surveyed to get the information they were looking for.

This project was a finalist in the 2015 NSW Health Awards, Preventative Health category. Watch a video on this project: Your Health Link: Information the Right Way (opens new window)

Visit the Your Health Link (opens new window) website.

Aim

To improve consumer access to evidence-based health information and empower them to make informed choices about their health and healthcare.

Benefits

  • Increases consumer access to high-quality health information and improves health literacy.
  • Reduces healthcare costs by encouraging consumers to proactively manage their own health.
  • Provides cost efficiencies for healthcare services and local health districts, through integrated partnerships.
  • Provides central access to information that reduces search time, providing a more efficient distribution of health-related information.
  • Meets the health information priorities of the NSW Health strategic framework, by providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Background

In its Strategic Plan 2012-2016, Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) committed to improving health literacy through initiatives that increased access to health information on the internet.

From an epidemiological perspective, the risk of increased mortality as a result of limited health literacy is nearly identical to the impact of chronic disease–after controlling for age, race, gender, income, education, health, health behaviours, health access and psychological status. Lower levels of health literacy are associated with higher use of health services and poorer health outcomes.

Research suggests that online access to health information empowers consumers to make better-informed choices about their health and healthcare, reaching population groups that may not come into contact with face-to-face healthcare services. However, access to health information can be complex in an online environment. As a result, consumers can become confused and frustrated, particularly those with limited online searching experience and limited health knowledge that affects their ability to determine the quality and validity of online content.

Implementation

Your Health Link was designed to address two causal aspects of low health literacy: consumer difficulties with access and navigation to evidence-based health information in an online environment.

It offers an easy to use online gateway that links consumers to information, organisations and services chosen by health professionals and requested by patients, families and carers. A broad suite of preventative health information and services are provided, on topics including tobacco control, physical activity, obesity, infectious disease, oral health, diabetes prevention and harmful risk factors.

The unique, innovative and simple website design provides clear, uncluttered pathways to information, with category links provided on a single page. It provides the user with a unique balance of text and images catering to all learning styles. Expanded capability includes text-to-speech services for individuals with low literacy levels or visual impairment, access to the site from mobile devices and a social media program via Facebook. It also provides information specific to age-related and group-specific cohorts, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities, carers and people with disability.

The program meets the ethical standards of the Health On the Net (HON) Foundation and is HON Code Certified.

Your Health Link was developed as a state-transferable resource, with scalability based on an integrated approach through the Your Health Link Information Partnership Program. The program supports the collaboration of government and non-government organisations and allows MNCLHD to promote Your Health Link to the local community.

Key dates

  • Project start: December 2012.
  • Launch of Your Health Link Facebook page: August 2015.

Project status

Sustained - The initiative has been implemented and is sustained in standard business.

Implementation sites

  • Mid North Coast Local Health District
  • Northern NSW Local Health District
  • South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
  • Western NSW Local Health District 

Partnerships

  • Australian Dental Association
  • Australian Hearing
  • Haemochromatosis Australia
  • Heart Foundation
  • Jean Hailes for Women’s Health
  • Lab Tests Online
  • National Rural Health Alliance
  • NPS MedicineWise
  • NSW Sexually Transmissible Infections Programs Unit
  • Northern NSW Local Health District
  • South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
  • Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
  • Western NSW Local Health District

Results

The performance of Your Health Link was evaluated six months following implementation of the project, through an online survey held over a three month period between May 2014 and July 2014.

The survey received 199 respondents who answered a series of questions, including:

  • Were you able to find the information you needed?
  • Has Your Health Link made it easier for you to search for health-related information on the internet?
  • Would you recommend Your Health Link to others?

Survey evaluation results suggested that MNCLHD had achieved the aim of the project.

  • 90.45% found the information they were looking for.
  • 86% stated the site made it easier to search for health information on the internet.
  • 91% would recommend Your Health Link to others.

Awards

  • 2015 MNCLHD Innovation Awards winner.
  • 2015 NSW Health Award, Preventive Health category, finalist

Lessons Learnt

This project was developed by clinicians and is governed by a broad range of expert consultants from the government, non-government and community sectors. What we learnt from the development of Your Health Link is that with collaboration and partnerships great things can be achieved. Although it is a state-transferable resource, Your Health Link is an innovation directly driven by the rural sector, by individuals who understand that rural and remote communities require services like Your Health Link to ensure equitable access to health and healthcare information.

Contact

Carolyn Guichard
Program Manager/Developer Your Health Link
Mid North Coast Local Health District
Phone: 02 6656 5213
CarolynM.Guichard@ncahs.health.nsw.gov.au

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