Healthline Launches Symptom Search
Especially for the hypochondriac in all of us, Healthline.com unveiled its new Symptom Search product this week. The "search-driven symptom exploration tool" pulls data from the Centers for Disease Control and from medical reference libraries.
In all, says the company, 3,500 symptoms and 900 diseases are documented. Healthline says that’s ten times the number of symptoms covered by WebMD or MayoClinic.
It seems simple enough. A person types in a symptom or collection of symptoms and the engine brings back all matching diagnoses. My main symptom brought back three pages of results. It’s probably the first one. Visitors can also keep a personalized list of symptoms to help narrow down the results.
“As a physician and heavy Internet user, I know that my patients are increasingly using the Web to research symptoms – it’s a great way, in the privacy of your own home, to explore topics you think you may want to talk to your doctor about,” said Enoch Choi, M.D., a family practice physician based in Palo Alto, Calif.
Healthline, a company that prides itself on its walled garden approach to health research by including only doctor-reviewed articles instead of the entirety of Web sources. The company says its new Symptom Search is set apart from other research tools because it uses a search-driven approach rather than static "interview formats," which, according to their numbers, only retrieve one-tenth of the number of symptoms and one-fifth of the number of possible causes.
Similar to Google’s Suggest feature, Symptom Search has a type-ahead feature that suggests ways to narrow it down. For example, if a person types in "cough," types of coughs like "painful cough" or "hacking cough" will be presented.
“Symptom Search offers a much more interactive, useful way for individuals to research health concerns, helping prepare them for conversations with their physicians,” said Paul Auerbach, M.D., clinical professor of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University and chair of Healthline’s Medical Advisory Board.