HealthBlog

Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Supporting Your Health Decisions with Bing

Supporting Your Health Decisions with Bing

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My friend and Microsoft colleague, medical search guru Dr. Alain Rappaport, called me the other day.  He wanted to tell me about some of the cool new health information updates that have been made to Bing.  As you know, Bing is much more than a search engine.  Bing helps you decide.  And when it comes to information about your health, helping you make the better decisions is really important.

For years, we’ve known that people turn to the Internet on matters related to health more than just about any other category of information.  But who has time to wade through a rambling list of stuff that may or may not be relevant, let alone trustworthy?  That’s where Bing comes into play.  Dr. Rappaport, who came to Microsoft after founding a company specializing in medical search (Medstory), has made it his life mission to develop tools that make it easier for people to not only find trusted information, but make appropriate decisions on that information.  That mission is increasingly evident as I look at some of the recent improvements to Bing that Dr. Rappaport and his team have been driving.

In an earlier HealthBlog post I described how health information and geospatial data are now being brought together to more graphically illustrate population health.  Here now are some other things you’ll discover when you look for health information using Bing.

Let’s say you just had a blood test for cholesterol and maybe you even have a result.  Is it normal?  What does it mean?  Hopefully your doctor gave you that information, but if not, here is information returned by Bing when you search for “healthy cholesterol level”.  Bing!  There it is.

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And if you need more, the information bar in the left hand column helps point you in the right direction.

Maybe you just found out you have diabetes.  Plug that into Bing and up pops some really useful pointers.

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Note that you get not only trusted information from the Mayo Clinic just a click away, but also the ability to narrow your search by ‘related conditions’ or ‘related medications’.  You even get a quick link to real time information on Twitter submitted by the American Diabetes Association plus the links you might want to use to share information with your social contacts on Facebook and Windows Messenger.

If you have a serious health condition, like some type of cancer (let’s say melanoma), you may be interested in access to clinical trials.  Even your doctor may not know everything that’s out there.  Search Bing for “Melanoma clinical trials” and you get:

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You can sort by Enrollment, Study Type, and Study Results.  This is good information to discuss with your doctor. You might be interested only in ’open studies’ or ‘all studies’.  Also, take a look at some of the other pointers you’ll get such as trial results from the National Cancer Institute or information from CenterWatch.

Search keeps getting better all the time.  When you are sick or need health information, I hope you’ll go to your doctor.  But even then, you might want to check with Bing.  Yes, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in search engines.  Thank goodness there are smart people like Dr. Rappaport and his team dedicating time and lots of resources toward making your quest for health information and the decisions you need to make just a little bit easier.

Bill Crounse, MD         Senior Director, Worldwide Health      Microsoft 

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