Curing Medical Information Disorder

Healthline is a specialized medical search engine that offers high-quality, authoritative information that’s easy to find, even if you don’t speak medicalese.

According to the Pew Internet Project, more Americans search for health information on the web than make doctor visits each day. The good news is that there’s a ton of great health care information available on the web. The bad news is that there’s also a ton of questionable quackery, and it’s not always easy to tell the difference.

Enter Healthline, the reincarnation of a site formerly known as Healthline is a specialized search engine that focuses exclusively on reliable, doctor-vetted information, covering 62,000 web sites with between 45-50 million pages. The site also features hosted content licensed from reliable content providers.

Medical information isn’t always easy to come by, primarily because most of us aren’t trained in the use of medical terminology. Healthline addressed that problem by mapping a medical taxonomy over hundreds of common lay terms for diseases, medications and other health related terms.

When you search, lay terms are translated and relevant medical information is presented. Even better, you’re offered a number of query refinement tools to help you broaden or narrow your search. So when you search for something like “high blood pressure” your results include links to articles about hypertension, as well as suggestions to broaden your search to things like “heart disease” and “vascular disorders,” or narrow your search to “metabolic syndrome x treatment” and “hypertension treatment.”

One of the coolest features is called a “health map,” a visual display of all of the concepts related to your query. Health maps resemble flow-charts, showing phases of diagnosis, treatment, alternatives and so on. Want to explore one of those areas in depth? Just click the relevant box on the flowchart and a new search is run. It’s a very slick way to display lots of information about complex subjects, at the same time making it easy to find relevant content without advanced searching.

If you prefer browsing, Healthline makes that easy too, offering more than 200 “channels” that each focus on a popular health topic. Each topic has featured articles, current news and related health tools and channels.

Healthline also offers some useful tools for registered users. You can save, annotate or rate content that you find, or email articles to other users. All of this information is private, and is never shared, according to the company’s privacy policy.

Healthline is one of the best, easiest to use health information sources I’ve yet found on the web. The “patient friendly” interface combined with first-rate, vetted content make it an excellent resource for anyone researching health related information.

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NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

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