Product development policyBy Mayo Clinic staff
To help you better manage your health, Web professionals and medical experts work side by side to ensure the accuracy, relevance and usefulness of this site's information and tools.
The product development team consists of experts in content development and production, product management, and user experience and design. Because physicians, scientists and other medical experts dedicate a portion of their clinical time to this site, we are in the unique position to give you access to the knowledge and experience of Mayo Clinic.
Content development criteria
All content produced by our product development team, except for the drug and supplement databases, is original. Original content that this product development policy applies to includes:
- Diseases and Conditions A-Z guides
- Editor's notes
- Expert answers
- Expert blogs
- First aid
- Healthy Lifestyle guides
- Health tools, such as calculators and self-assessments
- Medical illustrations
- Medical photography
- Slide shows
- Symptom guides and Symptom Checker
- Tailored medical messages
- Test and Procedure guides
- Treatment decision tools
- Video and animation
We create original content to convey these attributes:
- Timeliness. We strive to offer context and the Mayo Clinic perspective on current events. We don't compete with anyone to be first with news. Our focus is on depth, balance and perspective.
- Reliability. We're committed to publishing health content that reflects the expertise and the standard of excellence of Mayo Clinic. A goal of our product review process is to ensure accurate and up-to-date content. We date all content to reflect its last medical or product review for accuracy, relevance and functionality.
- Ease of understanding and use. We create content to read like a conversation between a caring and knowledgeable physician and the person in his or her care. We design our interactive products and services to meet usability standards and industry best practices.
- Usefulness and practicality. We want you to look to us for resources you can apply to your daily life. We aim to inspire, motivate and support you to participate more fully in your health care decisions.
The information we publish is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The service is presented for the sole purpose of disseminating health information. We recommend that you always request the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical condition.
Product development team
Our content team consists of communication professionals who have academic training in journalism, creative writing, health education or related fields. Editors have at least five years of publishing experience. Our product management team consists of professionals who have academic training in health or behavioral sciences, business, technology or related fields. Our user experience and design team applies expert knowledge of user-centered research and design methods to visual and interaction design.
In addition to the product development team, we retain a pool of experienced freelancers to supplement the work of our staff. All freelance work adheres to the same product development policy and procedures as does that of the staff.
The specialty medical editors who have dedicated time to work with us are predominantly active Mayo Clinic clinicians and faculty members at Mayo Medical School, at the associate professor or professor level.
Product development process
Regardless of the format, our products are the result of a standardized process for research, design and development. The product development team collects and reacts to ideas from a variety of sources. Content and product managers prioritize development of new content based on user and business needs. The environment at Mayo Clinic is rich with educational opportunities that keep our physicians and our content and product managers current with the latest developments.
Our editors keep an eye on breaking medical news worldwide, reading broadly and gathering periodically for product planning meetings. Our editorial research department monitors medical publications, databases and online resources for ideas and trends. We also conduct regular user research to determine the needs of our target audiences.
Editorial research. After the team agrees on the topic of a content piece, our writers, assisted by editorial researchers, search medical journals and medical texts to gather best-available source information for the topic. Our writers may also interview Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists who have special interest and expertise in the subject for source material. Often these individuals are authorities in their fields.
The team follows a standardized procedure for selecting, documenting and verifying best-available medical literature, and storing references. Specific content verified includes statistics, guidelines and recommendations, and changes in prevailing thought or standard practice. As a demonstration of Mayo Clinic’s commitment to excellence, acknowledging the available knowledge and providing transparency to site users, we display these sources as “References” on pages containing original content.
Medical review. Under the direction of the product development team, Mayo Clinic medical experts contribute to and review for accuracy all original, medically related information that is published by our product development team. Each year hundreds of Mayo Clinic medical specialists participate in reviewing content, serving as sources and contributing the valuable perspective of practicing medical professionals.
At least three physicians or other subject matter experts review all new content for medical accuracy. By the time content reaches the final-draft stage, it reflects the contributions of writers, editors and medical editors. Final drafts represent a consensus of Mayo Clinic knowledge and opinion and do not carry the attribution of a single author. Blogs and editor's note are exceptions. Because this content reflects the opinion of its author, we attribute it to the author.
Medical editors make final judgments on issues of medical accuracy. When there are legitimate differing points of view or there is not enough evidence to make a sound recommendation, we tell users this and guide them through the issues.
We also carefully qualify information because no one set of instructions or recommendations applies to every person. Interactive tools that allow us to gather basic information about an individual enable us to tailor the delivery of content based on the information gathered. We avoid a prescriptive, personal recommendation that can only be made by a health care professional who is caring for the person.
Continuous review and updates. To help ensure the accuracy and reliability of our content, we adhere to a continuous review policy. This means that the product development team systematically monitors developments in the health categories in which we publish. Our team of editors regularly reviews the medical literature, the health news and other media for developments in angle or scope. The medical editors help identify medical developments and work with the content team to prioritize the updates.
As we identify significant changes or advances, we reflect them in an updated version of the content as soon as possible. Scheduled updates of our original content occur at least every two years. Exceptions to this biennial review include blogs and healthy recipes. We review blogs as necessary. We review healthy recipes as necessary in response to user feedback and on a scheduled rotation cycle.
- Content production. After content is final edited and proofed, it moves to production, where it is converted to extensible markup language (XML) and published to the site.
- Design of health tools. Interactive applications follow a user-centered design process, which includes research and analysis, specification of content and functional requirements, design, usability testing, technical development, quality assurance testing, and release.
Writers suggest links from individual pieces of content to other Web sites as part of the development process. Editors and medical editors review all links as part of the medical review process. We include external links on a case-by-case basis for information only and not as an endorsement of the sites. In general, we publish external links to major medical associations and to government and some nonprofit Web sites.
For links to MayoClinic.com, we provide these guidelines:
Conflict of interest
All members of the product development team are required to disclose any financial interests or other commercial relationships that may be in conflict with their work for Mayo Clinic. We require managers to request disclosure from their employees at the time of hire. Management evaluates potential conflicts of interest and decides what steps are necessary to prevent or eliminate them.
Medical experts are also asked to disclose similar relationships to mitigate any appearance of conflict of interest. If medical experts reveal a potential conflict of interest, we don't preclude them as reviewers, but use additional reviewers to ensure an appropriate mix.
- Drug information. We license our drug information from Micromedex. The information about drugs contained in this database is general in nature and is intended for use as an educational aid, not as medical advice for individual problems. It does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects or interactions of these medicines. The information isn't intended as medical advice for individual problems or for evaluating the risks and benefits of taking a particular drug.
- Supplement information. We license selected topics from an herb and supplement database from Natural Standard Inc.
When the product development team decides to license content from third parties, our content team and medical editors do a comprehensive review of the market and choose products based on the accuracy and reliability of the information. We also evaluate the product's medical review and updating policy, to ensure that it adheres to our own as closely as possible.
Once we choose a product, we don't review each new and updated file but rely on the credibility of the authors. After publication if, in our medical opinion, there are problems with the information, we will bring those to the attention of the licensor. Our licenses do not permit us to make substantive changes to the content. If, in our opinion, the information is not reliable, we will use our best efforts to have the licensor update the material or we will remove it from our site.
Advertising and sponsorship
To help offset operational expenses and to generate revenue for medical education and research at Mayo Clinic, we accept funding from third parties who pay to advertise their companies and products on our site. We also accept funding from third parties who wish to sponsor certain areas of the site or to support the development of certain categories of content.
We maintain total editorial independence from advertisers and sponsors. Advertisers and sponsors have no influence over or input into our product development. They also have no influence over the listing of responses to search engine results. Neither advertisers nor sponsors can buy priority listings on our search engine. We don't allow cobranding of our health information.return to about this site