About our content
The healthdirect website is operated by Healthdirect Australia and delivers comprehensive content that is clinically trustworthy, relevant, current and accessible. Our goal is to make health information easy to understand, useful, engaging and visually appealing.
Healthdirect Australia's Clinical Governance Framework offers the assurance that our health services, whether provided directly by us or by contracted service providers, are both reliable and of high quality.
Learn more about our Content Governance on this page.
We work with accredited health writers, clinical experts and production companies to produce our health information. Here is a list of some of our regular contributors.
Medical writing and reviews
Elsevier Health Sciences Australia
Elsevier provides information services for the science, health and technology sectors, including publishing medical journals and textbooks. In addition to writing and reviewing new health content for our websites, Elsevier conducts scheduled reviews of existing content for clinical currency and quality assurance purposes.
Script Strategic Medical Writing
Script’s team of medical writers come from a range of health professions, including medicine, pharmacy, nursing and occupational therapy. Script’s director, Galia Stephenson, has more than 15 years of health education experience, a Bachelor of Science degree (Bsc Psych, Biochem) and a Master’s degree in Neuropharmacology (MSc Pharmacol.).
Deb has a Bachelor of Nursing degree and is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has worked both in hospital and in community settings as a registered nurse, midwife, childbirth educator and child and family health nurse.
Jane has 35 years of experience as a child health nurse and has qualifications in general, paediatric, immunisation and midwifery nursing. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Applied Science (Nursing) and in 2016 was recognised as the Credentialed Children’s and Young People’s Nurse (CCYPN). More recently Jane won the Australian Dental Association Award for Excellence in Dental Journalism (Print Media).
Jane is a former registered nurse and a medical journalist. She has degrees in science and communications — BAppSc (Nursing) and BBusComm (Journalism) respectively — and is a member of the Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA).
Karyn is a freelance medical writer with more than 15 years’ experience writing informative and engaging educational materials both for health professionals and patients. She holds a PhD in Chemistry and a Graduate Certificate in Journalism.
Ragg & Co
Ragg & Co's panel of writers and editors comes from a range of backgrounds, including health, science and law. The firm’s director, Mark Ragg (MBBS BA), has worked as a doctor in emergency departments, and as a journalist with The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald.
EIDO Healthcare Australia
EIDO Healthcare Australia provides information about surgical procedures. The group’s content has been developed by qualified and practising consultant surgeons and physicians to help consumers make informed decisions.
Healthtalk.org conducts qualitative research and provides information about health issues by sharing people’s real-life experiences. The initiative is a partnership between the University of Oxford and the DIPEx charity. Healthtalk Australia is a local consortium of researchers based at Monash University, RMIT University, the University of Sydney and UNSW.
UK National Health Service (NHS)
The UK's biggest health website is nhs.uk. Some of healthdirect’s online content, including the scripts behind the Symptom Checker, is based on information licensed from the NHS. Such health information has subsequently been reviewed and localised against Australian healthcare guidelines and standards.
Broken Yellow specialises in high-quality video, animation and design for a range of productions. Healthdirect Australia commissioned a series of animations from Broken Yellow that guides consumers through the Australian healthcare system.
Tonic Health Media
Tonic Health Media is one of Australia’s largest health and wellbeing media networks, created by health professionals in collaboration with media specialists. Healthdirect Australia commissioned a series of dementia awareness video productions from Tonic Health Media.
Information partner videos
Healthdirect Australia also includes on its websites video content produced by Australian health peak bodies and other organisations. Video provides easy access to high-quality healthcare information, presented by subject matter experts, and is beneficial to consumers at all levels of 'health literacy'. Learn more about our information partners below.
The following sources are used to create healthdirect’s medicines pages. The data is refreshed once a month.
Australian Health Thesaurus (AHT)
The AHT is maintained by Healthdirect Australia and consists of health and medical terminology. It is also the source of the pregnancy- and age-related information that appears on some medicines pages.
Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT)
The AMT identifies all medicines commonly used in Australia, including generic brands. It also provides standard names to accurately describe medications.
GuildLink is the provider of the high quality, standards-based photographic images of pills displayed on healthdirect’s medicines pages.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
The PBS provides details of the medicines subsidised by the Australian Government as well as information for consumers and health professionals.
Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
The TGA is part of the Australian Government Department of Health. The TGA regulates the supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines and complementary medicines.
The healthdirect Symptom Checker is an online tool that allows people to check their symptoms using a simple, self-guided triage process to find out what they should do next. This might include self-care at home, seeing a GP, going to an emergency department or calling triple zero (000).
Healthdirect Australia developed the Symptom Checker in collaboration with the UK National Health Service (NHS) and an Australian expert clinical panel. This process has ensured that the tool is clinically trustworthy, offers appropriate health advice and is relevant to the Australian health system.
The healthdirect Symptom Checker is not a diagnostic tool nor should it replace consultation with a health professional. It’s designed to help Australians access the care they need at any time, and to take some pressure off the health system.
More recently, as part of its response to the pandemic, Healthdirect Australia produced a COVID-19-specific Symptom Checker and a COVID-19 Vaccines Side Effect Checker.
Watch this video about the inception of the Symptom Checker.
The healthdirect Service Finder is powered by the National Health Services Directory (NHSD), a national directory of health services and practitioners.
The NHSD data aligns with other national databases, such as AHPRA’s register of practitioners, ensuring consistency of data sets across the health sector. The NHSD also uses a best-practice framework and consistent language to communicate across the health system by adhering to the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard and the SNOMED CT-AU taxonomy.
The Question Builder helps people prepare for their medical appointment. Using the tool, a person creates a list of the most important questions to ask their doctor, as well as any questions they may be asked by their practitioner.
The Question Builder was originally developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the United States. Healthdirect Australia and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care worked together to adapt it for the Australian healthcare system.
The Risk Checker was developed in partnership with The George Institute. It includes a series of questions about risk factors for heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. These 3 diseases are often related and the tool estimates a person's risk of developing each condition. It also suggests the next steps and provides practical tips on how to lower their risk.
The risk calculation for heart disease is based on the Framingham risk equation, which has been adapted for the Australian population.
The risk calculation for kidney disease is based on the Kidney Health Australia – Caring for Australasians with Renal Impairment (KHA-CARI) Guidelines.
The risk calculation for diabetes is based on the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool, which was developed by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute on behalf of the Australian state and territory governments.
Opioid Risk Indicator and Question Planner
To support the Therapeutic Goods Administration's (TGA) recent opioid medicines awareness campaign, Healthdirect developed an Opioid Risk Indicator and Pain Question Planner.
The Opioid Risk Indicator, through a series of simple questions, lets the user know if they're at risk of opioid-use disorder. This tool is based on research and risk calculations developed by the Monash Addiction Research Centre (MARC).
The Pain Question Planner helps the user curate a list of questions to ask their doctor about their pain medication.
Healthdirect Australia works with a group of more than 200 leading Australian health organisations that provide trusted content which can be accessed through our range of online services. They include peak bodies, government agencies, research institutes, educational institutes and not-for-profit organisations. An information partnership reflects a shared vision to provide relevant and reliable health and related information to Australian consumers.
Information partners are assessed for the quality, relevance and technical attributes of their online resources. Each organisation and their clinical governance and content development processes are evaluated. They adhere to our publishing standards, which underpin the criteria that Healthdirect Australia uses when assessing organisations for information partnership.
Standards and accreditation
Healthdirect Australia complies with relevant external standards for websites, including:
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The World Wide Web Consortium’s guidelines, WCAG, define how organisations can make online content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines also make content more usable for older individuals, whose abilities are changing with age, and often improve usability in general.
World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes
These advisory notes are issued by the Australian Human Rights Commission. They are intended to assist organisations that develop web resources by clarifying the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).
Guidelines and process
Healthdirect's editorial oversight occurs at 2 levels:
- Strategic development of new features and content is managed by Healthdirect Australia's Service and Content teams to ensure usability and overall quality of the website and its content.
- Content development and publishing is overseen by the Clinical Governance team to ensure all health and clinically related content is trustworthy, appropriate and current.
Content on the healthdirect website needs to adhere to Healthdirect Australia's Editorial Guidelines.
These guidelines have been produced to ensure Healthdirect Australia’s digital services, such as websites, tools, applications and widgets, follow best editorial practice, use consistent, correct and consumer-focused language and that all content is optimised for digital consumption and search engines.
Australians who use Healthdirect Australia’s online and other services come from a wide variety of backgrounds and demographics. They also vary in their ability to access health-related information, and to understand and make decisions about their own health — their overall ‘health literacy’.
Ensuring that content takes into account differing levels of ‘health literacy’ is a crucial objective.
Healthdirect Australia aims to provide consumers with accessible, understandable information that will allow them to make informed decisions about their own health. Where possible, content should outline specific actions readers can take to maintain or improve their health as well as deal with illness and even emergencies.
Content development process
Healthdirect Australia’s ‘Pathways Process’ applies to content that is manually planned, developed, produced, published and maintained by Healthdirect Australia within the digital properties and channels we operate. Processes outline workflows that cover both the creation of new content and its ongoing maintenance.
Healthdirect Australia’s content development process includes the following phases:
- Content planning and creation — gap analysis and evidence-based planning sessions take place regularly to inform content briefs; content is commissioned from accredited health writers, licensed from clinically approved sources or written in-house by Healthdirect Australia staff.
- Clinical and editorial reviews — clinical content is fact checked and peer reviewed by the appropriate health professionals; all information is editorially reviewed and sub-edited in line with Healthdirect Australia’s editorial guidelines.
- Classification and publishing — content is classified to ensure accurate clinical categorisation and metadata are optimised for search; publishing reviews are conducted prior to live release.
- Audit and evaluation — new content is audited quarterly by an independent reviewer and by Healthdirect Australia’s Clinical Governance team, ensuring both a user-centric approach and continuous process and content improvements.
Information and data management
Healthdirect Australia manages and maintains the Australian Health Thesaurus, a taxonomy of medical, health and human services-related concepts that reflect the current Australian environment. Concepts, including medicine terms, are mapped to standard terminologies, such as SNOMED, to enhance linked data opportunities.
Content maintenance and quality assurance
All content is reviewed on a regular basis to make sure it is complete, accurate and trustworthy. Our standard review frequency is every 2 years, with some topics reviewed more often due to the nature of the subject matter. ‘Last reviewed’ dates appear clearly on individual pages.
In addition to these regular reviews of specific health content, our associated processes are audited and assessed periodically to ensure best-practice content governance.
Sources and attribution
Our health information is evidence-based, with content supported by reliable sources. Healthdirect Australia aims to use Australian, non-commercial sources, including:
- clinical practice guidelines and/or position statements
- Australian government department statements
- reviews in peer-reviewed literature
- Australian data and statistics
- assessed partner organisations
Original (‘first hand’) sources of the material are referenced on our web pages. All references cited provide a title to identify the source and a link to the source website where possible.
Healthdirect Australia’s websites do not receive funding from advertising the products or services of other organisations. We don’t promote the interests of any person or organisation who may financially benefit as a result of information placed on the website.
Healthdirect Australia ensures the company makes information available on its websites with the primary objective of providing an important health service to users of that information.
Our editorial leadership team ensures the content on the healthdirect website is developed in accordance with Healthdirect Australia's guidelines and governance processes. The team provides strategic direction and oversees the external contributors who write and review our content.
Registered Nurse, BHS (Nursing), BTheol, BA (Hons), MHL
Mary leads the team responsible for the free, 24-hour Australian health advice and information service. The service is available via telephone helplines and multiple digital channels, supporting users in managing their own health so as to achieve better health outcomes.
Pharmacist, BPharm (Hons), MClinPharm, AICGG
As a member of the Clinical Governance division, Gillian oversees the quality and clinical trustworthiness of the website and its tools, in line with our Clinical Governance Framework. She is an experienced medical writer with more than 20 years’ experience as a pharmacist in both acute and primary care settings.
BA Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology
Francis ensures content produced for Healthdirect Australia’s digital channels is fit for purpose, including being compliant with health literacy principles. He also consults and advises on media and communications issues throughout the business, drawing on over 20 years’ experience as a reporter, writer, editor and sub-editor.
Camilla manages Healthdirect Australia’s Digital Content team, which is responsible for delivering the content strategies governing the online components of our services. Key activities include content planning, commissioning, production, publishing and continuing quality assurance and optimisation.
BA Library and Information Science
James oversees the design, delivery and management of the taxonomies, ontologies and vocabularies that support Healthdirect Australia’s online properties. He assists with information architecture development and management, including providing input to content modelling as channels are developed and evolve.
NOTE: While it is reviewed for clinical accuracy, the content on the healthdirect website is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional healthcare. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult your doctor or a specialist.
Last reviewed: September 2021