23 July 2007

UpToDate's new search engine

I had a look at UpToDate's new search engine, which now allows users to enter multiple terms simultaneously. This sounded too good not to check out right away. The more specific the search, they claim, the more accurate the resulting topic matches.

In the official press release, some examples are given. For information on treating hypertension in pregnancy, specifying "treatment of hypertension in pregnancy" will yield the best results. For pediatric titles or patient information, adding "in children" or "patient information", respectively, will also yield the best matches. So far so good.

Then I tried my own examples. My conclusion? I still find the UpToDate method of searching peculiar. Still rather hit-and-miss.

Here is one of my examples. Try typing in "morton's neuroma." You get five search results. Now type in "morton's neuroma treatment." You would expect fewer search results because of the greater specificity. Instead, you get 29 results, among them "treatment of hirsutism." Go figure.

Your luck is no better if you search "treatment of morton's neuroma." The answer is the same 29 hits. However, enter "traumatic prepatellar neuralgia" and you zero in on only one entry.

We are also told that the new search engine allows users to scan the results before selecting a topic. This works well, and it is a welcome improvement. By positioning the mouse pointer over a topic title in the list of results, an outline of that topic appears to the right. Users can scan the content from the outline, or click on an outline heading to directly access a specific section of that topic, such as "Treatment".

I'm still waiting for UpToDate to get really serious about its search engine.
For more information on the search engine and other developments at UpToDate, visit the website for a copy of their newsletter.


David said...

Perhaps UpToDate adds a Boolean "OR" between the search terms? How disappointing.