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Electronic Gateway to Federal Consumer Health Information: Background on the Prototype Gateway Project

How the Gateway Project Began

This electronic gateway to federal consumer health information is a starting point for consumers looking for health publications and other health information produced by the U.S. Government It is based on an earlier pilot project called "Libraries as Gateways," which distributed to public, clinic, and hospital libraries sets of 300 basic health brochures produced primarily by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Over 75 percent of the libraries participating in the earlier pilot requested that the health information be made available in electronic form. At the same time, Vice President Gore requested that the Department of Health and Human Services develop an initiative to make consumer health information produced by the U.S. Government more easily accessible to the public. This electronic gateway is a first step toward increasing access to the latest consumer health information available from all government departments and agencies.

How the Gateway Works

The Gateway helps you find the health information you want by providing easy electronic access to a database of hundreds of brochures and other publications on dozens of health topics -- the newest versions of the most requested publications from all U.S. Government departments and agencies. Just point your Web browser to the Gateway, enter the subject on which you want information (or choose from the subject list), and the Gateway will search the database for related publications.

What's Inside the Gateway

The Gateway contains both summaries and full-text files for hundreds of health publications produced by the U.S. Government.

Each summary gives you a brief description of the publication to help you decide if you want the information, as well as inks to the full-text files you can download. The summary also tells you how to contact the sponsoring agency -- by telephone mail, or the Internet -- to order a printed copy of the publication or get help in locating more in-depth information on the topic.

How To Find the Information You Want

You can find the information you want by searching for it in three ways--

  • By title, or by a word you think would be in the title or summary of the publication,
  • By subject, choosing from the list of words we've used to group related information, or
  • By one or more words you think would appear often in the text of the publication.

How the Publications in the Gateway Were Chosen

In the Libraries as Gateways project, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services worked with other Federal departments and agencies to choose the publications that would best meet the needs of Americans looking for health information to help themselves and their families live healthier, longer lives and to better understand and manage specific health conditions and health care decisions affecting them.

Still, hundreds of publications were too many for an individual consumer to sift through -- to give consumers a little more help in choosing where to start in searching for the information they need, a working group of agency staff reviewed all the publications and selected the 'best of the best'.

Federal Departments and Agencies With Information in the Gateway Project

Many Federal departments and agencies producing consumer health publications took part in the library-based project, which was coordinated by the Department of Health and Human Services. Publications will be added to this on-line Gateway as they become available in a digital format.

Other Information Resources Provided by the Department of Health and Human Services

For other information provided by Health and Human Services, please visit the HHS Home Page.