Top Health Search Engines of 2008

Mednar and GoPubMed have been voted Top Health Search Engines of 2008 by two independent measures.

Mednar is a federated search engine designed to quickly access information from a multitude of credible sources. Federated search is a new way to comprehensively search multiple databases in real time, ensuring a superior level of search results by ignoring outdated articles, irrelavant research and spam. Mednar offers several tools to narrow searches, drill down into topics and discover new information sources.

GoPubMed is a knowledge-based search engine for the life sciences and is based on PubMed, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 18 million citations from MEDLINE, the world’s most comprehensive source of life sciences and biomedical bibliographic information, and other life science journals for biomedical articles dating back to 1948. Once keywords are submitted to PubMed, the resulting abstracts are classified using Gene Ontology (a hierarchical vocabulary for molecular biology covering cellular components, biological processes and molecular functions) and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), a hierarchical vocabulary covering biomedical and health-related topics. Quite simply, GoPubMed enables users to find more relevant information significantly faster.

Health Search and the Semantic Web

Before it gets too far behind us, I wanted to write briefly about the Health 2.0 Conference, which was held in San Francisco on October 22 and 23rd. The Health 2.0 Conference focuses on the application of Web 2.0 technologies to the fields of medicine and healthcare. Specifically, I wanted to comment on health search, the semantic web and the demonstration of the health 2.0 service iMedix.

Search engines today rely extensively on keywords. However, with health-related searches, context or meaning takes on great importance. Consider this: a study earlier this summer found that simply replacing the search term “vaccine safety” with “vaccine danger” replaced virtually all accurate search results (out of the first 20) with inaccurate results [1]. Granted, there are several limitations to the study (small sample size, controversial topic), but it nonetheless illustrates how a single keyword can dramatically alter search results.