Bing Updates Its Health Search

Microsoft search engine Bing announced this week an enhancement to its search for health data (Bing Health) which is available through the regular search engine at

You can now search for health related information and get information boxes at the top of the page. Did you know January is Thyroid Awareness Month? I did a search for hypothyroid and got the following at the top of my search result:

Note that Bing is giving me the results for hypothyroidism, and not hypothyroid. There is a result box for the word hypothyroid but it’s much less extensive.

Anyway, this search gives you an overview of what hypothyroid means, as well as pointers to data about related disorders, drugs, and procedures; it looks like most of the content is brought to you by the Mayo Clinic. You can get a more extensive overview of hypothyroidism by clicking on the word at the top of the summary box, or do more extensive searches by clicking on one of the related drugs, conditions, or procedures.

I was kind of surprised by the related drugs list; I would have thought that Levothyroxine would be on the list. That was a bit of a problem with Bing’s box of results — the related items didn’t have enough context. Maybe the links to other searches could include content from the Mayo Clinic at the top of the results, with an overview of the drug?

I know this kind of information is available because I did a search for Levothyroxine, which gave me an information box like this:

This information box looks similar to the conditions box except you get pointers to basic information about the drug as well as pointers to related drugs and a list of conditions that the drug is used for. The basic information pointers link to an article, while the conditions and related drugs link to Web searches again.

You can do searches for conditions in the vernacular (Tennis Elbow) but I had mixed results in searching for symptoms like runny nose, headache, and fever. Sometimes I’d get a brief information box, sometimes I’d get nothing but the regular Bing results. The search male-pattern baldness did not get me an information box result, while the regular search baldness did — and listed “male-pattern baldness” as a related condition.

In addition to getting information on health conditions, you can also get results about medical facilities. I did a search for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and got a little box of information:

Here you can get contact information for the medical facilities, including ratings from and links to nearby facilities. But there’s no map, and the URL that Bing denotes as the “official” URL for the facility isn’t on the Web results page until about halfway down!

These quick information boxes will help you get to the basics of a medical condition or a medical facility quickly. But wow, I wish there was more guidance — a list of important vocabulary words or a package of useful Web sites — to take you beyond the basics into more extensive searching.

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