I got a press release from mamma.com announcing an innovative health search site that "conquers the deep Web." I'm not interested in "conquering" the deep Web (content not typically indexed by Web search engines), but I would like to get something better than a list of barely differentiated results for a plain English (or whatever language) query. First, it's a bit unclear as to what deep Web mamma is claiming to search, other than constraining the search to a few hand-picked health-oriented sites. Among the sources I found are NHS Direct Online, MedlinePlus, WebMD, eMedicine Health, MayoClinic.com and MedicineNet.com. Search results for topics like "poison oak," "acid reflux" or "HIV" weren't that much more useful than what I got at Yahoo or Google, which index some of the same sites as mammahealth.com. However, Yahoo and Google present more content from drug company-sponsored sites and others with financial interests in healthcare decisions (mammahealth.com doesn't have any sponsored links...yet). Yahoo also has a portal that provides a simple directory interface for accessing basic health-related information. CNET's (parent of ZDNet) search.com has a health-related metasearch. ProFusion has a metasearch engine that scours even more non-biased health sites than mammahealth.com.
Using mammahealth.com for a variety of searches, I got mostly metasearch list results sorted by source (not relevance), with minimal topic classification (e.g., definition, treatment, symptoms). It would be good to give users control over what sites are searched and do a better job of deep analysis of the content so that sorting results by subtopics is more useful. Mammahealth.com also provides general Web search as an option. The engine is in beta-test now, but it needs a lot more smarts--and depth--to go beyond the current constrained metasearch results or its competitors.