Saturday, September 16, 2006

New Health Search Engine

C|Net reports on a new search engine for Health information called Healia. One big selling point is that it allows the searcher to limit their results by several demographic features as well as reading level.
On the about page it reads:
We use a health vocabulary database of hundreds of thousands of health-related concepts and relationships to suggest alternate search terms and concepts. This allows you to see the relationships among concepts and search terms that are similar, more general, and more specific than those you submitted.

And the first thing that pops into my head is MESH! So I thought I would give a whirl. I typed in a topic that we get a lot of questions about for papers -- which is overweight and limited it to Kids and Teens.

My big disappointment with the results was where the search engine derived it's used Wikipedia for it's authority. Great Ghost of Hippocrates! Why on earth would they chose to use Wikipedia's definition as opposed to the MESH or even Webster's Dictionary (which is what NIH/NLM uses). Which one has a great chance of changing faster or erratically? Do you want risk when you are search for health information?

They do provide a small link to related terms at the top of the page Obesity and Body Weight -- which is very important. The results themselves seems to be a mix of government, hospital, and "health sites".

There are a couple of really nice features to the engine -- first the limiters on the side bar are a fast and easy way for users to limit without having to know Boolean. There's a quick and easy "email link" feature under each link as well as tags for each link Attributes: Advanced Reading, Privacy Policy, Kids, Fast Loading (they vary depending on the link).

Over all for a product still in the beta phase this search engine has a lot of potential -- although it is duplicating a lot of work that NIH/NLM does. But there's always advertising money to be made. It'll be interesting to see where this site goes.

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