Google launches health service

Google quietly launched a new service that combines the power of social networking sites like Wikipedia and Del.i.cious with its search technology to deliver better-focused health information. Google Co-op features a new health search that offers users Wiki-like features such as the ability to comment on the reliability of pages and contribute expertise on a topic.

The new approach to search allows users to filter medical information in ways that look likely to vastly improve the quality of search results. Doctors, for example, can search for information on continuing medical information, practice guidelines, and the latest clinical trials. Patients can look for information on conditions and symptoms or examine material on drugs and treatments--including feedback from patients who have already tried a certain medicine or approach. Other options allow searchers to limit their queries to information on alternative medicine or restrict them to results from respected medical sources.

Because the Google Co-op concept relies on user participation, it may be some time before this service really hits its stride. But when it does, it looks as though Google is positioning itself to be at the head of the pack for a long time. Contributors include the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, the University of California San Francisco, the National Library of Medicine, the CDC and Kaiser Permanente.

- read this USA Today article