First introduced in 1998, the ChiroMaster contest is designed to highlight individual chiropractic Web sites that represent the best the profession has to offer.As in previous years, this year's entrants were judged on a variety of criteria: content (the presence of accurate, easy-to-read information for patients about chiropractic); information about the doctor's practice; technical considerations (such as how quickly the home page downloads; ability to navigate the site easily; valid links; and compatibility with various Web browsing programs); and miscellaneous factors (including spelling, grammar, correct contact information, and when the site was last updated).
As personal Web sites have become more sophisticated over the years, so have the standards for the ChiroMaster. After reviewing the sites submitted for review this year, the four-member Web site review panel chose the three sites that best met the above criteria. So, without further ado, we proudly present the 2004 ChiroMaster Award winners:
Physicians Plus is the site of a family (literally) of chiropractors (Drs. George Langlitz Jr., George Langlitz III, and Michael Langlitz) and their staff (including two more Langlitzes: Sharon and Patricia) in Springfield, Massachusetts. It's one of the most professional looking of the sites that entered the ChiroMaster contest this year; the word "spiffy" comes to mind (and not in a bad way, either). Its 10 sections take users through nearly every aspect of the practice, are easily labeled, and are quite easy to navigate. In fact, navigability is one of the site's best points: Users can access any part of the site in just one or two clicks, and it features a floating toolbar on the left-hand side, so users don't have to scroll up and down.
Physiciansplus.com has all of the features you'd expect to see in a high-quality chiropractic site: contact information and directions to the doctors' offices; profiles of the doctors and staff members (including photographs); solid descriptions of what chiropractic is (along with similar descriptions of massage therapy and physical therapy); and a "difference" section that lets users know about the unique type of care the Langlitzes provide.
Highlights of the site include "Conditions and Concerns," which discusses more than 30 health topics, ranging from acupuncture to whiplash and car accidents. Each topic is discussed thoroughly, and is usually accompanied by one or more images that portray the condition or topic in more detail. Another highlight is "Headlines," which includes updates on the latest news and studies related not just to chiropractic, but all types of complementary and alternative medicine. Overall, PhysiciansPlus.com is an excellent site that blends together all of the elements necessary to win the ChiroMaster Award.
Winchester Hospital Chiropractic Center
Admittedly, winchesterhospitalchiro.com does not technically adhere to all of the guidelines for the ChiroMaster award. Because the center is run in a hospital, it's not an individual chiropractic office. However, because the site is so well-done and informative (and in so many ways) the review panel decided to overlook this technicality and award the site a ChiroMaster.
Two chiropractors and a three-member support staff run winchesterhospitalchiro.com. (You can learn all about them on the site's "Meet Our Staff" page.) Those unfamiliar with the profession should stop by "About Chiropractic Care," which provides a good primer for people unfamiliar with what chiropractic can do; describes the different stages of musculoskeletal injury; and sets patients up for what to expect on their first visit. There's also a specific section for health care professionals, which provides more comprehensive information on chiropractic, research, and answers some of the (admittedly strange) questions that have been submitted to the DCs about chiropractic.
The site's best feature is its exhaustive "Conditions and Treatments" section, which lists three-dozen different disorders, replete with graphics and detailed descriptions. Almost any condition that can be treated by chiropractic is included in the section; furthermore, each condition comes with a brief introduction, along with causes, related symptoms, diagnosis, and how chiropractic can treat the condition. With its combination of high-quality content and graphics, layout, ease of use, and visual appeal, winchesterhospitalchiro.com has distinguished itself from other sites in this year's ChiroMaster contest, and is a worthy addition to the ranks of previous award winners.
The Web Site of John Avard, DC
The only repeat winner in the ChiroMaster contest this year, dravard.com won its first ChiroMaster in 2003. Not one to rest on his laurels, Dr. Avard revamped the site after winning the award last year, eliminating some sections, consolidating others, and adding new sections for prospective patients. The result is a site that is just as good as, if not better than, the 2003 version.
Dravard.com is comprised of 18 sections, many of which are extremely helpful to new and returning patients. For instance, users can find Dr. Avard's office at the "Directions" section, schedule an appointment via the "Appointments" section, learn what types of insurance network Dr. Avard belongs to in the "Insurance" section, and see what types of payments he takes at the "Payment Options" page. Similar sections describe the nutritional and chiropractic-related products available for patients, although the listings may a bit much for some visitors.
Other sections of note include the obligatory "FAQ" page (short for "Frequently Asked Questions"), which provides background information on the history, effectiveness, safety and cost of chiropractic care; and an "Archives" page that contains dozens of short articles on chiropractic, nutrition and other forms of alternative medicine. The only complaint the Web site review panel found with dravard.com was that its "News" section was somewhat outdated, but considering the amount of work already put into the page, and the fact that Dr. Avard is still in the process of updating the site, this oversight is understandable. Overall, dravard.com is a well-rounded, comprehensive site that first-time and repeat visitors will find extremely useful.
See You in 2006!
After intense discussions among members of the review panel, Dynamic Chiropractic has decided not to hold a ChiroMaster contest in 2005, but will instead hold it every other year, with the next contest taking place in 2006. Holding the contest biannually accomplishes several goals: It allows DCs who have been in practice for several years plenty of time to redesign or improve their existing sites. For new practitioners, holding the contest every other year provides ample time to register a domain, acquire server space, purchase the necessary software, and create a site that will be the envy of chiropractors around the globe.
Congratulations to all of the chiropractors who submitted their sites for this year's contest; to this year's distinguished award winners; and to DCs who have won the ChiroMaster in previous years. The profession is proud of your efforts to make the benefits of chiropractic known to patients, consumers and the general public worldwide.