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Symptom Search: Healthline's New Product


Healthline just launched a Product we are all excited about, Symptom Search. I have been involved in Symptom Search since I began working here about a year ago. Working behind the scenes and trying to translate the wide world of health care knowledge into data that can be used by non-medical people has been a huge challenge. It is a big change from the immediacy of relieving suffering in an ER. In my previous work as a Nurse Case Manager, I worked behind the scenes, coordinating care for injured or ill people, but I still talked to them individually on the phone. People knew that they could call me to tell me if something I had done helped them (like getting them into a Pain Program) or if they needed something else (a new doctor, a different specialist, transportation to therapy).

For Symptom Search, we often worked late into the night and on weekends, over the holidays, with nothing but our brains and our computers. We always kept the consumer in mind: the mother worried about her sick child, the retiree in Iowa, the average working person with back pain, or the international traveler with "weird" symptoms. We were operating blind, without patients to give us feedback on whether or not this work was useful, relevant or helpful. That is why it has been so rewarding to get feedback from folks who have used the Product.

One of our favorite responses was posted to Chris Pirillo's Picks for 03/01/2007. (Pirillo is an Internet guru and pioneering blogger who has 140,000 subscribers to his blog.) One of Pirillo's subscribers responded to his recommendation for Symptom Search with the following comment:

  • "You just did me a great service: I’m 72 and probably one of your oldest subscribers. I’ve not been feeling well and assumed it was just part of getting old. When I saw your health link I decided to check it out (Symptom Search). I typed in my symptoms and received a diagnosis. I called my doctor and he ordered a blood test. The prognosis is I have pernicious anemia. The doctor stated it was treatable and prescribed ferrous sulfate and vitamin C. Thank you for the wonderful and timely link."
Other users have responded to Healthline with similar stories:
  • "What a relief to use Symptom Search and find the articles about Post-trauma Stress Disorder. I have been experiencing most of those symptoms over the past 10 years and always wondered about why I do/not do certain things...the articles verified things I could not put it into words. Now I understand better my feeling of vigilance. Thank you for your website...with excellent information"
  • "Hi Team
    Thanks for this, symptom search is an excellent tool for me.
    Kind regards Occupational Health Nurse Thailand"
  • "I was already diagnosed with Strep throat so it was wonderful to see it pop up within the top three possibilities when I put in four symptoms. I think this may help me determine whether to visit a doctor earlier rather than enduring the misery longer."
That is exactly what the product was designed to do and we all feel gratified that we have been able to help our users! We designed the Symptom Search Product with the hopes that it will help people talk to a doctor about their problems. When you are in the doctor's office, you know you only have 15 minutes to talk about your suicidal child, your mother who is leaving her keys in the front door and the car in neutral, and your personal sexual problems. It may be one of the most important and intimate encounters of your life. How do you express everything that is going on in a way that grabs your doctor's attention? We hope that Symptom Search helps you organize your thoughts about your symptoms and helps you communicate your concerns better to your health care providers. We are always interested in your feedback, good or bad, and will be continually updating the product with additional diagnoses.





Thank you, jen d. cox for the picture of her child, now healthy, born with coarctation of the aorta.
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The Healthline Editorial team writes about the latest health news, policy, and research.

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