Health information seekers who have the need to explore an unfamiliar health topic are the primary audience for HuSearch. The terms listed in the left menu are intended to help mitigate the “vocabulary gap” between medical experts and health consumers by providing access to a wide variety of consumer and professional terms. Users can efficiently explore new concepts directly from the search interface. Search results from multiple sources give a user a diverse set of resources. Combined, the two main feature provide consumers with an interactive search interface that invites exploration and learning. A 2011 Pew Internet study found 80% of internet users look for health information online, which makes it the third most popular online activity. Health consumers often use search engines to find information, but many report frustration at not finding the information they need. Our new search system,, gives health consumers access to a wide variety of resources and medical concepts from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and commercial sources with a single click. These resources range from the expert-created MedlinePlus and PubMed, to the peer-created social site Yahoo! Answers. Concepts include Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) developed by expert medical indexers and health-related social tags created by members of the general public. The goal of HuSearch is to help health consumers explore these resources and concepts in an easy to use interactive search interface.  Each search submitted to HuSearch uses public APIs to retrieve the top search results from MedlinePlus, PubMed, Bing, the New York Times, and Yahoo! Answers. Along with search results the system retrieves MeSH, terms from the UMLS 2011 Consumer Health Vocabulary (CHV), and social tags from the website The searcher then uses these professional terms and social tags as guides to find and explore new resources in an interactive search interface. Search engine users often submit short queries that do not adequately represent their information need, HuSearch uses health terms to expand queries helping users gain greater knowledge and ultimately better health outcomes. Assisting information seekers is critical, as the quality of health information found on the Web may influence the quality of healthcare received by the health consumer.HuSearch is available to the public at and may be accessed with any modern Web browser. Best results will occur with a screen resolution of 1024x768 or greater and JavaScript enabled. The homepage features a search form and a tabbed interface that shows the most recent Tweets from several NLM accounts, the user's most recent searches (if any), and the top 100 search terms submitted to MedlinePlus. Users may select any of these items to access the Twitter stream or submit a new query to HuSearch. The HuSearch results page helps users manage problems of information overload. It shows up to the top 10 results for the five sources, giving a maximum of 50 results per query. Each query is run through the  Bing spell checker. If a query is corrected, the user will see a simple text notification on the results screen above results for the corrected query. Buttons at the top of the screen provide users the option to filter results by source. Clicking the “MedlinePlus” button for example, will hide results from all others, allowing the user to focus on this one source. Social tags and MeSH in the left column serve a dual purpose. When moused-over, any search results indexed or tagged with that term will be highlighted., allowing users to easily identify which results are related to a specific term. These terms are also links that let the user expand their search. When the link is clicked, HuSearch submits a new search for the current query "AND'ed" with the clicked term. Users may continue clicking terms, performing new searches with increasing specificity. They can also select CHV terms under the heading Related Concepts to submit a completely new search for that term. For example, a HuSearch user may search for a broad concept like “celiac disease.” The search results page will provide terms to this user, like “gluten-free” and “diet,” enabling them to easily explore these related concepts and increase their knowledge about this disease. Additonally, they can easily browse a comprehensive set of results, from academic research at PubMed to consumer-friendly questions at Yahoo! Answers. HuSearch is being developed in an iterative design process. The current system sends each query to multiple APIs via HTTP, which may result in noticeable lag for some searches. Future iterations of the system will utilize technologies like caching and local indices that should easily improve the speed. An early version of the system was tested in a usability lab with a limited number of users. The search guide functionality was highly rated by participants in the study. Their feedback informed the design of the current version, and continued development will likewise be guided by additional user feedback. Future versions will have an improved user experience and additional search resources and medical vocabularies.

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