Hypochondriacs can rejoice (well, alright, a lot more than just hypochondriacs)! Searching for health information of all kinds will soon be much simpler and more organized thanks to the efforts of a number of small and large internet companies that are creating web portals designed to sort and reduce the clutter often found when using common search engines like Google, according to a Wall Street Journal report this week.
The timing for such developments is ripe, as a reported 79 percent of internet users hunt the internet for all types of health related information, according to a recent investigation by the Pew Internet and American Life Project nonprofit research organization.
There have been a number of buyouts and other deals as numerous companies position themselves to offer the public solutions to their health information web searching woes: WebMD Health purchased eMedicine; Revolution Health Group recently acquired several start-ups, WSJ reports.
One of the most troubling parts of searching the net for health information is the clutter, but also the reliability of the information you find. And of course there is the danger of users actually making medical decisions based on information solely found on the web. No web portal will be able to take the place of a physician, but these new services are taking several strategies to at least reduce the mess and point you in the direction of what are believed to be credible sources.
Some of the new web tools are making an effort to organize the data produced via a search into relevant categories or provide results for reports written by physicians associated with the search engine provider, making links as ‘credible’, or pointing users to specific types of sources such as medical journals or government sites.
Most of the sites are taking another approach to searching in general, called ‘vertical searches,’ which is a type of searching configuration that yanks relevant data from previously selected sites designated by the search engine.
This opportunity is not being ignored by the big boys of search engines, namely Google that is said to be contemplating a move to facilitate health-related searches. Though Google has not announced any specific plans, the company seems to have established a ‘Google Health’ division to evaluate the potential of the market and what its technology can bring to the table, the WSJ reports.
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