Study: Researchers Blame Google Flu Trends Inaccuracies On Ongoing Algorithm Updates

google-health-medical Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston claim the regular overestimation of flu cases by Google Flu Trends can be blamed on Google's ever-evolving algorithms and the inaccurate analysis of big data. Google Flu Trends often has been cited for incorrectly projecting the number of flu cases. In 2010, a University of Washington study claimed Google Flu Trends was 25 percent less accurate than reports from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Just last year, reported Google Flu Trends overestimated the number of people with influenza like illnesses (ILI) by nearly double. [...]

77 Percent Of Online Health Seekers Start At Search Engines [Pew Study]

google-health-computer-featured Although there's long been a debate over the accuracy of health information online, many U.S. Internet users aren't hesitant to use the Web when they want answers to health-related questions. And rather than dedicated health sites, the vast majority of them begin their research at a search engine. A new study out tonight from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project says that 72 percent of U.S. Internet users have gone online in the past year specifically for health-related information, and 77 percent of that group says their research started at Google, Bing or another [...]

Where’s It Hurt? After You Search For A Symptom, New Google Health Search Results Suggest Causes

google-health-computer-featured Roughly 100 million people in the US search for health information on a monthly basis, according to 2011 comScore data. Google has seen these queries up close and recently concluded that it doesn't do a great job of servicing them. The company is thus introducing improved results that shorten the time from symptom-related search to discovery of potential medical causes and conditions. Google Chief Health Strategist Roni Zeiger, MD, says the company sees users search on health symptoms and then almost immediately turn around and search for conditions they discovered in those initial search r [...]

Walmart Buys Former Search Engine Kosmix To Power Social And Mobile Shopping

walmart-kosmix-featured For those who follow search it was initially one of those "WTF moments": Walmart acquiring erstwhile Google challenger Kosmix. However AllThingsD reports that the price was $300 million-plus vs. $55 million raised. So the founders and investors get a seemingly nice exit. Kosmix will now become part of the newly established "@WalmartLabs." When it launched in 2006 Kosmix was building a better search engine that organized results by category and added numerous filters allowing users to drill down for more relevance and control. Below is an early Kosmix search results page (via DailyTech [...]

Avvo Expands Into Doctor Search & Ratings

Avvo, the popular lawyers' directory, is expanding into the medical industry today with a new directory of US-based doctors. The company says its new services launches with profiles of more than 800,000 doctors, as well as a forum where consumers can trade questions and answers with participating doctors. The most noteworthy -- and possibly controversial -- element of the new directory might be the inclusion of an Avvo Rating for each doctor listed. When Avvo's attorney directory launched in 2007, many in the legal profession were critical of Avvo's proprietary ratings system and some sued. [...]

Doctors Warn Against Relying Too Much On Google

Chances are good that you've searched for health-related information via Google, Yahoo, Bing, or some of the other health-specific portals. Both Google and Bing continue to expand the amount -- and quality -- of content they show in response to our health searches. But, based on a recent study, the medical industry says we should be cautious when relying on the Internet for health-related information. The study, published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, examined the top ten search results on Google and Yahoo for ten common sports medicine diagnoses -- phrase [...]

Google Flu Trends Is Under The Weather, Study Says

Google can do a lot of things, but a new study says it can't estimate flu activity across the United States with a high degree of accuracy. A University of Washington study says Google Flu Trends is about 25% less accurate at estimating flu rates in the U.S. than the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) national flu monitoring programs. Dr. David Ortiz, who led the university study, says search activity isn't necessarily the best way to gauge the flu's spread. "Internet search behavior is likely different during anomalous seasons such as during 2003-4," explained Dr. Ortiz. "We hypothe [...]

8 Crazy-Cool Search Engines You Should Know

Move over Google, Yahoo, and Bing; blended results or not, personalized search, Twitter results and OneBoxes ... you guys are just too predictable for this article. There's a new breed of search engines out there, and they're letting users search and find some utterly crazy stuff. And by "crazy," I mean a lot of things: unique, cool, awesome, and downright strange. Sometimes all of the above. A search engine that lets you find (and buy) discontinued soda pop? Check. A search engine that helps you find cheap items so you can get free shipping? Sure! A search engine to locate misspell [...]

Following Shopping, Yahoo Partly Outsources Health Vertical To Healthline

The Yahoo strategy of outsourcing content and technology continues. According to a press release, Healthline will support and augment the existing content and provide search for Yahoo Health. In the Healthline partnership, Yahoo! gains a technology partner that already provides over 90 million users a month with the most contextually relevant and clinically accurate health information available on the Internet and offers targeted opportunities for advertisers. Under the multi-dimensional agreement, Healthline will build upon Yahoo!’s existing high qualit [...]

Google Flu Shot Locator Shows Where To Get Vaccines Near You!

Looking for where to get a seasonal flu shot or that hard-to-find vaccine against H1N1 swine flu? Google has a new flu shot locator that can help. When the locator loads, you many need to manually enter your location. Do so using the "Change Location" option: After doing your search, a red needle icon shows where to get regular seasonal flu shots, a blue needle for the H1N1 vaccine or colored both ways if both are offered at a particular location (so many needles -- don't let your kids see this map before you go!): Click on any of the icons, and you'll be shown more informatio [...]

NetBase Debuts “Semantic Search Showcase” With HealthBase

Netbase is an enterprise-facing software and search company that appears to have one of the most advanced search platforms in the market. Earlier this week during a briefing Netbase marketing and product VP Jens Tellefsen asserted that no other search provider in the consumer or enterprise segment was as advanced -- an audacious claim. Tellefsen went to considerable lengths with me to back up the assertion, however. He said, "The closest thing we've seen is what Powerset was trying to do." But he added that Powerset was essentially an elaborate proof of concept (subsequently acquired by Mic [...]

Healthline Adds New Doctor, Treatment Search Tools To Site

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" bui [...]

Dilbert’s Scott Adams: Will Google Replace Your Doctor?

Can a search engine accurately diagnose health problems? Can it someday replace your doctor? Questions like this aren't new, but the discussion has gotten a bit louder in recent weeks. Just a couple weeks ago, I reported on a Microsoft investigation of cyberchondria, when inaccurate medical information online makes actual health problems worse. On Friday, Dilbert cartoon creator Scott Adams shared a different point of view, telling blog readers how Google helped him find treatment for a speech defect known as Spasmodic Dysphonia. More specifically, Adams was using Google Alerts to get i [...]

Cyberchondria: When Web Search Makes You Sick(er)

Those muscle twitches you get probably aren't a sign that you have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, aka "Lou Gehrig's Disease"). But if you're using search engines to diagnose what ails you, there's a chance you'll come to that conclusion. In a new paper, Microsoft investigates cyberchondria: "... the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomatology, based on the review of search results and literature on the Web." Microsoft researchers Ryen White and Eric Horvitz studied a 40-million page sample of search results (from Live Search) and surveyed 500 Microsoft employees abo [...]

Who’s Got The Flu? Google Flu Trends Reveal State-By-State Activity

Wondering if it's just you or if others have the flu, too? Google's announced a new tool that tells you. Google Flu Trends allows you to see flu activity across the United States. How's Google doing this? Is it now indexing actual human beings, in the way it does web pages? Nah. Turns out that when you're sick with the flu, you search for that word and other flu-related topics. Google can tell which areas are seeing a spike in flu-related searching, and from that, trends can be plotted. Consider this chart that compares actual flu activity to searches for flu-related terms, ove [...]

Kaiser Chooses Microsoft Over Google For Personal Health Records Initiative

Kaiser Permanente, with the largest HMO in the US, has selected Microsoft's Health Vault personal health records initiative over Google in a big new test with Kaiser employees, according to the NY Times. If successful, the offering could be extended to all of Kaiser's almost 9 million members. According to the article: The partnership, announced Monday, will begin with a pilot project open to Kaiser’s 156,000 employees, which will run until November. If successful, the product linking Kaiser’s patient information with Microsoft’s Health Vault personal health-record service will be o [...]

Vertical Search Engine Healthline Launches “Semantic Ad Network”

Vertical health search engine Healthline has introduced what it’s calling the Healthline Media Network, a contextual ad network for medical and health-related sites. According to the company, the new ad network will utilize Healthline’s "semantic health search technology" to better understand partner page content and do a better job of matching ads accordingly. From the press release: Healthline HealthSTAT (Semantic Taxonomy Ad Targeting) is a new ad-focused application that recognizes rich health-related concepts (as opposed to simple keywords) within the content on publisher sites, an [...]

Hakia Goes For “Quality” Over “Popularity”

If Hakia were using an automotive analogy, the site might be saying to Google, "We're BMW, you're Chevrolet." The Hakia blog explains how the engine is taking a "quality" approach, trying to assess the credibility of sites in ranking them, together with the help of professional librarians. Hakia specifically discusses this in the context of health-related search and contrasts its approach with that of "popularity," a general reference to Google's original PageRank algorithm. The company says that it will roll out "Quality Search" in a range of verticals -- "law, finance, science, and in many [...]

Health Insurance Carrier Aetna Introduces Personalized Health Search From Healthline

Vertical health destination and search engine Healthline has teamed up with US health insurance carrier Aetna to offer what the company is calling Aetna SmartSource -- customized health search. The service, powered by Healthline, will roll out on Aetna’s member self-service website and offer personalized search results based on individual health records and profiles. That means that two different Aetna customers searching for "diabetes type II" will see potentially different results based on their individual health histories. What's different about this vs. what Microsoft, Google, and Revo [...]

Vertical Search Provider Healthline Beefs Up Content, Features

Health is one of the "strategic consumer verticals" that Microsoft has identified and is an important consumer and advertiser category for all the big search engines and portals (Google is soon to launch Health after delays). There's also Steve Case's much-hyped Revolution Health. (WebMD is the category leader according to comScore.) However, one of the best search engines in the health segment is the much less widely known Healthline. Over the past couple of years, the site has been building its content and distribution relationships, as well as its tools and capabilities. Yesterday, the co [...]

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