While Microsoft and Google want to build general health portals for consumers (Microsoft launched HealthVault, and we’re still waiting for Google Health), medical search engine Healthline is taking more of a white-label approach. It is partnering with Aetna to create a personalized health portal for insurance customers called Aetna SmartSource.
Since Aetna already has electronic medical records for the people it insures, SmartSource can offer personalized results for health-related searches. These include health information about a person’s specific conditions and maladies, their medications, local doctors who treat those diseases, and medical costs. Healthline’s medical taxonomy matches common health terms with their technical medical counterparts to provide a guided search experience. For each search, it provides a visual map showing all the related categories, covering diseases, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
By tying into all the data that Aetna already collects about the people it insures, Healthline is sidestepping one of the big hurdles that HealthVault and Google Health face. Namely, getting personal medical information into their systems. But it is a very insurance-centric view of a person’s health. (There is a lot of emphasis on showing healthcare costs, even though that rarely factors into the medical decisions of most people who are covered by insurance).
Google’s and Microsoft’s approach draws on many more sources of medical information and is designed to help people monitor and track their own health. For instance, they let you upload data from medical monitoring devices such as glucose or blood pressure meters so you can keep track of your progress over time. The Aetna-Healthline portal takes a much more top-down approach. If it is not a billable health event, SmartSource won’t capture it. That part is not so smart.