Search Medica – The GPs Search Engine

Search Medica is a search engine that has been specifically designed for GPs (General Practitioners or Doctors) to use. Pulse, a UK weekly news magazine for doctors conducted research that seemed to suggest that doctors were unhappy with the results of the medical searches that they were running on traditional search engines.

Consequently Search Medica has been produced in conjunction with doctors to provide them with a very specific and tailored search experience. It’s still in beta testing at the moment, so has lots of requests for feedback. Although I’ve only taken a brief look at it (and I’m certainly not a medical practitioner) my prediction is that this will very swiftly become a firm favourite, not just with medical professionals, but also with the general public.

The search interface screen is clean and clear, giving searchers the opportunity to search for their subject limited to medical sites as chosen by doctors, NHS (National Health Service) sites, or the entire web. Once a search has been run the searcher has the option of running it a second time, with the option of further limiting to various sub categories such as evidence, patient information, guidelines or reference. There is also an option to limit results to the UK only.

There is a very neat and tidy option to narrow or broaden a search – clicking on the link slides out various suggested approaches. Below that and to the left of the screen (with the results on the right) are options to view the most relevent content in various sectors, such as evidence, patient information and so on – exactly the same options as are made available for a second search, giving users quick access to results without the necessity of re-running the search. Below these options is a final category ‘related concepts’.

The main results are presented in the usual fashion; numbered, with the title, brief summary with keyword in context and link to the site/page. There is also a ‘Was this helpful?’ option, which I presume is as a result of the beta nature of the engine. I would have liked rather more information at this point (date and a cached version for example), but that may clutter up the screen rather too much. Results are drawn from web pages, .pdf files and full text journal articles.

Search Medica was simple, clear and intuitive to use. As it is backed by a respected UK medical journal, and GPs are involved with its development I suspect that it will gain wide acceptance quickly, and because of its ease of use this won’t be limited to the medical profession.

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