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Dr. Karl Kochendorfer makes a compelling case for federated search in the healthcare industry. As a family physician and leader in the effort to connect healthcare workers to the information they need, Dr. Kochendorfer acknowledges what those of us in the federated search world already know – Google and the surface web contain so little of the critical information your doctor and his staff need to support important medical decision-making.

Dr. Kochendorfer delivered a TEDX talk in April: “Seek and Ye Shall Find,” explaining the problem and solution:

Some highlights from the talk:

  1. There are 3 billion terabytes of information out there.
  2. There are 700,000 articles added to the medical literature every year.
  3. Information overload was described 140 years ago by a German surgeon: “It has become increasingly difficult to keep abreast of the reports which accumulate day after day … one suffocates through exposure to the massive body of rapidly growing information.”
  4. With better search tools, 275 million improved decisions could be made.
  5. Clinicians spend 1/3 of their time looking for information.

And, the most compelling reason to get federated search into healthcare is the sobering thought by Dr. Kochendorfer that doctors are now starting to use Wikipedia to get answers to their questions instead of the best evidence-based sources out there just because Wikipedia is so easy for them to use. Scary.


If you follow this blog you know that I rarely write about metasearch engines. It’s not that I dislike them, there’s just too many of them out there, it would be hard to keep track of them all, and few capture my attention. Plus, even though metasearch engines are federated search applications in their own right — they aggregate search results in real time from a number of sources (which may consist of live or crawled and indexed content) — I mentally place them in a category of their own.

Last December I wrote about Rollyo, a personal search engine that you can customize with a list of URLs to search. While one could argue that Rollyo is not a federated search application (it’s got to be searching crawled and indexed content rather than live sources if it searches arbitrary web-sites) I found it to be innovative enough to warrant a post. Addict-o-matic (hat tip to Web Worker Daily) is another metasearch engine that intrigued me.

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InformationWeek ran an article on October 30th titled “Survey Favors Dogpile’s Metasearch Approach.” The article reports that a recent study by J. D. Power and Associates, the customer satisfaction survey people, reports that Dogpile has ranked highest in customer satisfaction among search engines.

Dogpile is one of a number of popular metasearch engines. A metasearch engine is a kind of federated search engine that specializes in aggregating content from a number of search engines. (Note that noone refers to a search engine aggregator as a federated search engine but lots of people use the term “metasearch engine” to mean the same thing as “federated search engine.”)

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