"Paternalism in healthcare died a not so quiet death with the dawn of the Internet". That's an observation I made perhaps a dozen years ago as patients began to flood my office clutching printouts from their searches on the Net. The Internet fundamentally and forever changed the doctor-patient relationship. Patients now have the world's medical literature at their fingertips and 24/7 to study their own disease often putting them content-wise (but not context-wise) well ahead of their physician. But searching for medical information on the Net has its perils too. There's plenty of stuff out there with absolutely no scientific validity, and worse yet, a lot of information that's downright harmful.
So it's been clear for a very long time that consumers needed better tools when seeking health information for themselves or their loved ones. That's why I'm so pleased that Microsoft is taking a leading position in all of this with the launch of a new health search service on Windows Live. It helps people DISCOVER, LEARN, and ACT on their health searches, enabling them to make smarter health decisions. The service is part of the new Live Search offerings announced by Microsoft on September 26th.
Windows Live "Health Search" functionality intuitively organizes and surfaces the most relevant online health content, allowing users to refine searches faster and with more accuracy. The new offering provides a landscape for navigating health topics not found in competing search engines today, including:
- A “dashboard” that allows people to rapidly refine a more specific set of search terms. Users can quickly and easily see key concepts related to their query and drill down to find the results they want rather than having to read through pages and pages of results.
- Article results from varied points of view (e.g. Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, Gold Standard and Wikipedia) combine to help users understand enough about a topic to ask intelligent questions when they get to Web results.
- Search results also include “Action Modules” to help people connect with relevant third party services and applications to take action – for example, finding a new doctor or purchasing a home monitoring device.
You can try it for yourself here. And this is just the beginning! There will be another big announcement coming from our Health Solutions Group next week. I believe it is the dawn of yet another new era in healthcare, and one that will be very good for people seeking health information and wanting to do a better job taking care of their, and their family's health.
Bill Crounse, MD Worldwide Health Director Microsoft Corporation