Tom Eng, President & Founder, HealiaVenky Harinarayan, CEO, KosmixAlain Rappaport, CEO, Medstory/MicrosoftDean Stephens, President & COO,Healthline NetworksModerator: Jack Barrette, CEO WeGoHealth (ex-Yahoo
Each of the presenters gave a 4 minute demo of their specialized search abilities: gathering together relevant, multi-media information, and then breaking that information down into discrete sub-topics. A key challenge each approach has dealt with in a different way is helping the searcher weight, narrow and make sense of the findings.
Most have developed advanced algorithms that work better with natural language, and that rank results by probabilities and incidence. By identifying searcher characteristics and responding in kind, these tools increasingiy also allow searchers to be aggregated into social groups.
How likely is one of these health vertical search players to take meaningful market share from "the major?""Not Very Likely" came in first at 47%, followed by 32% voting "Pretty Likely."
Which search engine gave the most useful results? Praxeon came in first, but the first four were relatively even. Kosmix received the lowest response.
One of the challenges that specialized search engines face is the development of profile in the consciousnesses of consumers who use them relatively infrequently. They must find ways to exist alongside the majors, who have strong search capabilities but cannot, by definition, be nearly as nuanced.
One questioned called the panelists to task for not accessing the growing (and, presumably, increasing valuable) mass of user-generated health care content.
One response said that this was a work in progress, and would undoubtedly increase over time. But another respondent noted that, at this time, the search engines should rightly be focused on identifying evidence-based information first, with commentary secondary.
Superb discussion on a very challenging and increasingly sophisticated topic!