Search Locates Doctors For What Ails You

MD Search Engine

Changes in healthcare have forced consumers to research doctors in a manner similar to the ways they search for cars or flat-screen televisions. So, when emerged this week as the Yellow Pages for physicians, it came as no surprise the site offers information far beyond names and addresses.

But the site lacks an advertising roadmap for pharmaceutical and health-related companies -- a bit surprising because the cofounders also run an advertising agency, affiliate network and an ad-supported social site called

While Dave Abelson, CEO and co-founder of MD Search Engine and vice president of parent company Seed Corn Advertising, calls the site a search engine, it does not pull information through Web crawlers. Instead, about one million names populate the database. Doctors pay a monthly or annual fee for premium features that include prominent placement, links to their Web site and full contact information.

It's about getting doctors online, Abelson says. The service allows physicians to market their services by building a complete Web site or page that supports specific details about their education, specialties, locations and insurance accepted. It links to the database.

People can search for a doctor by Type/Specialty and ZIP/Postal code within a specific mile radius. Abelson admits the search feature is a bit buggy, but the IT and sales teams are in place to grow the business.

But will need to compete against powerful engines like WolframAlpha and Microsoft. Both pull data from the Web. Microsoft's Bing recently built out its search engine to add information about health-related issues and guidance on hospitals and doctors after internal research found that 43% of people search engines to research health stuff. Bing pulls data from a page on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services's Web site that allows people to rank the quality of care.

Aside from competition from mega search engines, Abelson -- along with a MD Search Engine co-founder -- may have missed a bigger opportunity to serve up pay-per-click (PPC), contextual targeting and rich media ads for pharmaceutical and health-related companies. It also could provide a link to sites, such as the National Cancer Institute, to provide more information on clinical drug trials and news.

The pharmaceutical industry spent $103 million in 2009 on Internet ads, and that number is estimated to reach $111 million in 2010 and $174 million in 2014, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

"We're not taking an advertising approach, because we really want to keep it more of a safe place for patients to find doctors, and doctors to support patients," Abelson says. "It's a bit controversial when the doctor doesn't use the drug, but the drug keeps popping up next to his name in the search engine."

Next story loading loading..