Microsoft said Monday that it planned to acquire Medstory, a privately held California company with a health information search site.
Microsoft said the company will become part of its recently formed Health Solutions Group. Financial terms were not disclosed.
In a statement, Peter Neupert, Microsoft's corporate VP for health strategy, said Microsoft was impressed with Medstory.com's ability to find relevant health-related information.To further justify the acquisition, Microsoft cited an October study by the nonprofit Pew Internet & American Life Project that found that almost a quarter of the 8 million people in the United States who seek health information online were frustrated by scant information or the inability to find what they were looking for.
The shortcomings of Internet search engines as tools for finding categorically specific information have led to the launch of dozens of so-called "vertical" search engines in the past few years. Vertical search engines return results relevant only to select topics like health care, law, or programming.
Late last year, Google VP of engineering Adam Bosworth posted an unusually personal call for the search industry to improve access to health information. "Health information should be easier to access and organize, especially in ways that make it as simple as possible to find the information that is most relevant to a specific patient's needs," he wrote on the Google blog.
Though Google has taken tentative steps to address this issue by implementing search clustering technology as a way to return focused health care search results, Bosworth said, "We don't have any products or services to announce yet and may not for quite some time, but we thought we'd share a bit about the problems we're interested in helping out on even before we introduce solutions."
Microsoft it seems is interested in helping out, too. How thoughtful.