One of the speakers at CIL 2007 mentioned a trend in developing specialized, narrow-focus search engines, and tossed out Healia, a health search site, as an example.
Designed to help consumers find high-quality health information on the web, Healia uses algorithms, a “quality index score,” a health-optimized spellchecker, semantic technology and personalized filters (such as age group, or HONcode sites, or professional sites) to find the nuggets of relevant health information while avoiding unreliable sites. Healia was developed under the Small Business Innovation Research award program from the National Cancer Institute.
My sample searches turned up a number of good, reliable sites, many of them similar to what I would find in MedlinePlus. One nice feature for seniors is a button on the results page for increasing font size. Also useful, on results pages, are links to more specific and more general terms.
In addition to web search, Healia can also be used to search Pubmed and Clinical Trials. The site also includes Healia Health Blog; recent stories include lupus; lead paint and toy recalls; breast cancer fundraising. The list of “Blogs We Read” offers some suggestions for other consumer-health blogs to monitor.
Find out more about Healia here: http://www.healia.com/healia/en/healia_about.jsp?