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Comments (beta) is a health community that features the ability to pose a question. Any member (it’s free) can answer, but “the search results are screened and optimized by a team of physicians and software professionals for relevancy.” (From the FAQ.) It’s an interesting mix of amateur and professional.

The random browsing I did of the 1,126 questions (half of which  have been answered) made the site seem promising. The answers tended to seem to be helpful, doctors jumped in when the questions were really scary (e.g., does having lots of liver cysts mean that you have cancer, although I would have thought that the doctor who told you that you had lots of cysts would have explained this rather carefully at the time), and it was a full ten questions before I came onto one about penis size.

When you ask a  question, you have to  categorize your question. There are about 25 top-level categories – from Allergies to Women’s Wellness (but for us be-penised ones, it’s called ‘Men’s Health’ …curious) – and clicking on one reveals more levels of choices. I asked why my blood sugar goes up after jogging for 45 minutes (I’m a Type 2 diabetic), and immediately ran into one of the basic problems with providing a fixed menu of choices: I had trouble finding the right category. I didn’t want to put it into Fitness and Healthy Living. I finally found Diabetes under Hormonal Health and Metabolism. That’s asking a lot of your users. A search engine would have been a useful addition.

The very first question I looked at hit the second major problem with fixed menus. It was someone asking why he was having trouble bending and stretching his pinky. The writer has diabetes and high cholesterol. Yet the answered question was listed under Rheumatoid Arthritis. I assume that the TauMed staff classified it that way, because if the writer had known how to classify it, he wouldn’t have been asking.

The box of related content that accompanies each answer contained highly relevant information. This is one of the advantages of using a fixed taxonomy, although the suggestions seemed to be derived non-taxonomically as well.

There are “communities” for each of the two dozen top-level categories. You cannot create your own.  Maybe that’ll change. You can also create a personal health journal, post commentaries and observations, and search a directory of local health resources.

There’s a BBC article on TauMed here.

One Response to “TauMed – Curated medical miscellany”

  1. on 03 Aug 2008 at 9:00 pmfnjkahy vcum

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