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 company introduced a range of new content and tools, perhaps too many for a single press release. They include:

Healthline drug search – this offers enhanced content and an “interaction checker” that can alert consumers to “possible interactions – with other drugs, herbs, supplements and even foods – based on your list of medications.” There’s also “FDA alerts” (e.g., recalls, side effects), photos of medications, and a “pill finder” that allows consumers to identify medications by their visual characteristics.

Tools and more tools – the site has added “170 new risk assessments, quizzes and calculators” licensed from partner StayWell (a consumer health education publisher and division of MediMedia USA).

Healthline marketplace – powered by HealthPricer, it offers a broad array of health-related products that can be purchased online

More content – new content partners include StayWell (as mentioned), AHFS (the American Hospital Formulary System), and Natural Standard, a provider of alternative medical and health information

According to previous findings from the Pew Internet Project, 80 percent internet users have searched for medical information online. Jupiter Research also found that 71 percent of consumers have used search engines to find health-related information. Among other partners, Healthline provides the data for the SmartAnswers on Ask for health-related queries.

Health-related advertising, including the “pharma” category, is worth billions of dollars annually in the US. The category represents approximately 5 percent of online advertising according to the IAB/PriceWaterhouseCoopers, making it worth more than $1 billion on the internet today.

Healthline has financial backing from Aetna, GE/NBC, JHK Investments LLC, Kaiser Permanente, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Reed Elsevier, US News & World Report, and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Search Engines: Health & Medical Search Engines

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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