Healthline proclaims itself the winner in consumer health

In practice this means you download your Aetna or United EHR to an Aetna or United PHR. At that point your data can face Healthline's search services, which then deliver the benefits of semantic search to you.

Healthline is announcing a new search system called Treatment Search at Health 2.0.

CEO West Shell (right) is also ready to tell anyone that the first leg of the consumer health care race has been run, with his company winning the online battle.

"We're now delivering health resources to over 40 million consumers/month through a network of advertisers, content providers, portals and health plans," he said.

Go to Ask.com with a health question and the answer comes from Healthline. Same if you to to Time Warner's Health.com or search iVillage's TotalHealth. And now Healthline search is being integrated with Personal Health Records (PHRs) from companies like Aetna and United Heatlh.

"Our taxonomy, the world's largest consumer taxonomy, allows us to semantically understand what the search is about, what the ads should be about, what the user is actually looking for. So if it comes up in their PHR a reimbursement for heart attack, we can deliver the right content, the right search results, and the right advertising," he told ZDNet.

In practice this means you download your Aetna or United EHR to an Aetna or United PHR. At that point your data can face Healthline's search services, which then deliver the benefits of semantic search to you.

It's this level of EHR-PHR integration that distinguishes what Aetna and Healthline are offering from anything currently offered by Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault, although Shell said discussions are ongoing with both those companies.

Shell's idea is that partners concentrate on what they do, be it editorial, general search, or insurance, while Healthline handles the complex health search and delivers advertising revenue based both on the search topic and personal data.

"I view competitors as customers," he said. Companies like iVillage are content companies, not tech companies.

What makes Treatment Search unique is its integration with your PHR. "Treatment Search is the first tool that consolidates all your treatment options – all your tests, your medical procedures, your medicines."

It also delivers data on doctors. Right now, for most doctors, it's just a location search, with some data on the doctor's academic background and specialty, plus a phone number if they offer it.

But that will change. 

"We'll add layers on that so it provides a better basis to decide which doctor is right for them. Most doctors who have elective practices and are looking for more patients love these platforms. Those doctors who aren't looking have less interest in them.

"Ultimately doctors are no different than any business. Their reputation and value proposition must be understood.

"We will aggregate other rankings and ratings that we believe provide another set of data. They may not like it but the fact is consumers are gaining control of the health care market. They need pricing transparency, quality of care transparency, and a clear concept of the options they have out there."

If those sound like fighting words to you, the fight is largely over.