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Remedying the search for reliable drug info

July 10, 2013 | Posted by Microsoft Research Blog

Remedy, a prototype search system, helps people assess useful medication-related Internet search results.Healthcare providers increasingly appreciate the value of patients having access to accurate and understandable information about their health and treatments. This is why Microsoft Research’s Dan Morris and a team of researchers at Columbia University, led by Professor Lauren Wilcox, have been working to develop Patient Friendly Medical Displays that automatically create simplified, personalized, plain-language views of the information in a patient’s electronic health record.
Now this team of researchers has developed Remedy, a prototype search system that assists laypeople in assessing medication-related Internet search results. General-purpose web search engines give a broad array of results, without providing tools to help people narrow in on technical or non-technical content, avoid ads, and spot indicators of quality and credibility. Remedy supports rapid filtering and comparison of medication-information search results, based on a number of website features and content topics. It thus helps users find reliable, patient-friendly educational material more easily. Remedy summarizes the topics that it finds in the search results and lets users navigate to websites according to these topics. It also provides a topic-based view in which users can see what multiple sites have to say about a single topic of interest. This video shows how Remedy helps patients find relevant, reliable information about their medications. 

Remedy was tested with patients in the cardiac aftercare unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital. The researchers are evaluating the outcomes of this pilot study, but initial results indicate that patients were enthusiastic about using Remedy. A second, more substantial hospital study is under consideration based on these positive indications. In addition, Remedy was demonstrated at the 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare in Venice, Italy, May 5–8, 2013.

Although Remedy is still a prototype at this stage, the initial positive reaction to it bodes well for further research and development on tools to ensure that patients can easily access and understand reliable information about their medications, health, and medical treatments.

—Simon Mercer, Director, Microsoft Research Connections

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