Turn Your Browser and Cough: The Top 15 Health Care Web Sites

Categories: Tech

Star Trek's resident hypochondriac, Reginald Barclay.
Lt. Reginald Barclay was a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. By trade, he was an engineer, but he was well known on the show for being a massive hypochondriac. On one episode, Dr. Beverly Crusher advised Reg not to look through the Star Fleet medical database anymore because it was causing him to obsess over diseases he didn't have.

All of this was supposed to take place years into the future, but with all the medical resources available online, the future is now, both for healthcare and hypochondria. Clearly, my biggest health issue is chronic nerdiness given that Next Generation lede.

Before I get to this list, a word of warning. Don't try and self-diagnose. It is particularly important that you don't try to self-diagnose through public forums because, invariably, that soreness in your toe will mean you have terminal cancer and three weeks to live if the denizens of health Web sites were to be believed.

However, if you do want some basic healthcare knowledge, remedies for common ailments or relief from reoccurring problems, here are 15-plus Web sites that can help you out. Just don't come back to me tomorrow complaining that you are certain you have a rare, fatal African virus because of a pain in your shoulder.

The Health and Human Services Department has a surprisingly simple Web site.
15. BetterMedicine.com and HealthGrades.com
These are companion Web sites owned by the same company. HealthGrades is like Yelp for doctors. Patient surveys grade physicians on everything from trust and communication to wait time and office environment. There are a TON of doctors listed, making it very useful. BetterMedicine is a comprehensive healthcare site with well-organized information and a easy-to-use symptom checker.

14. RXList.com and Drugs.com
I lumped these two together since they are both drug information Web sites. Both have tremendous detail and pill-identifier software. RXList is owned by WebMD, a name you'll see on this list, and I'd give it the slight edge over Drugs.com, which is based in New Zealand, but they are both good sites for medication information and identification.

13. Wellsphere.com
Wellsphere is like the Google of medical Web sites. Its interface is super simple -- just a search box on the front page -- and no cluttered screen full of articles and photos. The search results return articles and all sorts of detailed information as well as news from HealthCentral.com, a site also owned by the parent company of Wellsphere.

12. Prevention.com
This site is the online companion to the popular health and wellness magazine of the same name. While it probably isn't quite as comprehensive as some of the other sites on this list and it delves a little more into beauty and other topics that no doubt drive magazine readership, it is well organized and has good content.

11. Health.gov
Health.gov is a remarkably simple and functional Web site run by the federal Health and Human Services Department on health and healthcare initiatives. It ties directly into HealthFinder.gov for detailed information on disease, but it isn't a full-blown diagnosis Web site.

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Because it is part of the NIH, I didn't include it directly. The entire NIH is fantastic. Good call though.

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