TauMed brings social networking to health

Beta medical site works on metagating the best health data, while beating out the competitors.

TauMed is a new medical Web site for consumers who want detailed health information. Where the popular WebMD offers A-Z health guides, videos on selected topics, a 3D symptom checker and a symptom evaluation tool, TauMed goes an extra step with new features out this week that aim to build a community among those seeking health information.

The president of CEO of TauMed.com, Tauseef Bashir, attributes this extra depth to a proprietary search engine, which finds articles by theme, not just those with matching keyword tags. When I tried the phrase "birth control," I found that related articles from different parts of the site (news, health tips, blogs) appeared. Nothing irrelevant was placed on the first page of search results, whereas on Google-powered WebMD, the second item listed was only loosely connected to the search term.

Several other features of TauMed are promising. One of the newly added features is "My Health Space." This function lets members create a personal Web site containing links to articles, TauMed support groups and doctors. "My Health Share" is a blog-style forum where users can sound off on a host of health topics. Both functions are aimed at building a solid community of users and medical professionals.

I found that most of the blog-style forum's posts are answered by other TauMed members. This may be good for light issues ("Does pulling my hair in a ponytail too tight cause headaches?"), but less useful or even dangerous for serious medical concerns. While I would like to see the editorial board step in as experts and not just hidden moderators, Bashir's intention with the blog community is to create a comfortable environment for discussion, not necessarily diagnosis.

The site could be helpful for patients researching ongoing conditions because of the bookmarking capabilities on "My Health Space." If I want to research diabetes, for example, I could easily create a full library with credible resources and connect to a community around the topic. While TauMed is off to a good start, I'm uncertain of how comfortable users will be sharing their medical woes in a social-networking setting, without the promise of receiving a doctor's expert advice.

 

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