The American healthcare system is very broken, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others. Health insurance carriers and providers hold almost all the cards. However the internet has gone a long way to arm consumers with information and help them become more sophisticated about their conditions and treatment options. And while the health vertical online is quite competitive, many of the names in the segment are not well known to consumers because of the occasional nature of “health search.” One of the most sophisticated and powerful is Healthline, which offers “semantic health search” built on an elaborate taxonomy of diseases and symptoms.
The site, which was originally founded in 1999 but relaunched in late 2005, claims about 40 million uniques, directly or through its partner network. Today Healthline is announcing two new search tools for its site: treatment search and doctor search. From the press release:
While most treatment information online is embedded deep within articles on health websites, Healthline TreatmentSearch is the first online health application to surface a semantically-generated list of possible treatment options for a disease or condition. The application covers 4,500 treatments, including 1,200 medications and 3,300 medical, surgical and alternative therapies. Healthline Treatment Search results are ranked algorithmically, and sub-categorized into the following:
- Diagnostic Tests
- Medical Procedures
- Surgical Procedures
- Self Care
- Alternative Procedures
- Prescribed & Over-the-Counter Medications
- Nutritional Supplements
TreatmentSearch also offers the ability to estimate costs for the intended procedure by local market. In addition, it provides a range of alternative treatments and therapies to surgical procedures in many cases. Indeed, there’s a dizzying amount of available information on the site.
The second part of the announcement, DocSearch allows consumers to search for and compare doctors across a range of criteria:
Starting with only a health condition and a geographic location, Healthlilne DocSearch culls results from a database of 1.3 million health professionals, including MDs, chiropractors, nurses, clinicians, and alternative practitioners to find the right care in their area. For example, if a consumer searches on doctors who treat strep throat, Healthline will automatically surface a list of otolaryngologists as well as internists in the selected geographic location. Healthline DocSearch can be further refined by a doctor’s length of experience, languages spoken, education, hospital affiliation, and even letters in a last name. A unique doctor-compare feature opens a window that lets users compare up to 20 different doctors – as opposed to 3-5 on other doctor compare products — in an easy-to-read format.
The things that DocSearch won’t tell you (yet) unfortunately are whether the doctor takes your insurance and what past patients think of the doctor. But Healthline COO Dean Stephens told me that this content was on the roadmap.