Almost overnight, Healthline seems to have become the consumer health information portal. It provides a search engine for health-related web pages and a directory of information for specific health subjects, all tied into a taxonomy of health-related terms and a synonymy to help searchers with the medical nomenclature.

At first glance, I'd say the web search needs a bit of refinement - I got a result that pointed to a page that wasn't really health-related but happened to have the right words on it (Scirus suffers from this too) - but the taxonomised directory is excellent and I found some useful information straight away. Broadening and narrowing of searches based on a hierarchical taxonomy is something biomedical searches have needed for a long time (MeSH provides a similar function): I guess it helps if you have $40 million to throw at the problem ;-)

Tony Gentile is working with Healthline and has some interesting posts on the subject, including:

Healthline doesn't do hotels, it just does health. And it doesn't do automated statistical clustering (though that's not a religious stance, just a current state). Rather, it uses a well vetted medical taxonomy (overlayed by a lay-person synonymy) to do its query refinement.

Our query refinment will come in three buckets -- broad, narrow and related -- and in two flavors -- visual and text taxonomy traversal.

So, for example, if you're like David Hornik, and think you're suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (aka Venture Capitalitis), you can type it into Healthline and get refinements that not only help you get to the results themselves, but actually put your search in context by showing you medically (vs. statistically) where NPD fits in the world of all things "health".

Tony Gentile | buzzhit! blog: Search Engines Just Aren't That Into You

Paul Miller has some insight into health-related search as well.