Kosmix Health Search Goes Alpha

    October 31, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

A new health topic search engine that will compete with Healthline and established sites like WebMD has launched as an early public test.

The Kosmix search seeks to tap into the expanding demand for health-related information by web users. As an alpha release, Kosmix wants to use this period to play with the search algorithm and garner feedback from users.

Not much is known about those behind the company, but the Onotech blog had this to say about Kosmix:

Healtheon/WebMD, watch out: Today, Kosmix.com launches to provide healthcare search. I know two very smart search engineers there, Jason Zien (from IBM’s WebFountain) and Ram Subbaroyan (from Inktomi). Kosmix is founded and funded by the Junglee/Cambrian nexus, and I expect them to kick some serious booty.

Kosmix searches through a variety of medical related sites, from medical journals to blogs to research institutions. The site claims it can return authoritative results from hard-to-find sources.

A search returns results in the expected manner, and delivers some grouping information in the left sidebar. Queries can be filtered from the left sidebar by information type, treatment type, or patient type. Running a query for ‘weight loss’ gives Babies & Kids and Women’s Health as patient types, but oddly omits men as a specific group; it looks like the patient type filters general results down to those specific to women or children as required by the user.

In my brief testing on a couple of other topics, Information Types fall into four groups: Basic, Expert, Organizations, and Blogs. Treatment Types have three groups, Clinical Trials, Alternative Medicine, and Diet & Nutrition.

Search results for Kosmix are not doctor-reviewed. A big selling point of rival Healthline is that it does include numerous doctor-reviewed information results for various conditions and topics. A Healthline search for topics with that info deliver a doctor-reviewed result as the first link in the search results.

Right now, the sources used by Healthline, the anatomical images provided by A.D.A.M., and the various features Healthline has developed over its lifetime give it an edge over Kosmix searches. But Kosmix is only in alpha, and definitely has room for improvement.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.