Catisha R. Benjamin, MLIS
Manager of Library Services, Children’s Hospital Colorado
Adjoint Faculty, University of Colorado Anschutz – Health Sciences Library
Doody’s Special Topics Lists Inaugural Editorial Board Member
This is an update of a review I wrote that was published in the December 2017 issue of Doody’s Collection Development Monthly. You can find the original review here.
WebMD is a health information services website that provides the public and healthcare professionals with updated information on health conditions and how to check symptoms. WebMD also shares updated information regarding COVID-19.
WebMD can be used to find:
- Health Conditions A-Z
- Drugs & Supplements
- Living Healthy
- Family & Pregnancy
- News and Experts
- Trending Videos
- Trending Topics
- Top Stories
- Check Your Symptoms
- Find a Doctor
- Find a Dentist
- Find Lowest Drug Prices
- Popular Tools
- Coronavirus Update
Features and Functionality
WebMD continues its basic search, providing ads by Google, WebMD Spotlight, drug results, and pictures regarding symptoms. There is still no advanced search or filters to narrow results. The search functionality is user friendly for public use, and results remain quick and straight to the point. There are also great videos from doctors and “Top Stories” regarding COVID-19.
Health A-Z is a feature to research “Common Topics,” such as acne, asthma, knee pain, and other common issues, given an overview of the selected topic. COVID-19 is a new topic within this feature. WebMD shares the daily COVID vaccine doses distributed, administered by the U.S. and by state. WebMD continues to share guides and top search terms regarding surgery, medications, and treatments. There also remains recommended slide shows, videos, and tools and resources to research in Common Topics.
“All Heath Topics” is easy to navigate for users who may struggle to locate results. The topics continue to start off in alphabetical order, but users have the option to select the first letter of the topic they are looking for. They then have the option to listen to overviews, can see synonyms for the topic, and are given references to organizations for more resources. It continues to appear that using All Health Topics and Common Topics may yield the same search results, but users can only tell once they search in both sections.
The WebMD “Coronavirus Updates” webpage provides the latest updates. There are sections to get the latest news, videos of what to do after having COVID and if a person decides to get the vaccine, and a section called, “Recovering from COVID: Help for Long Haulers.” This feature is great for the public who may have questions and are not able to speak to a medical provider, and the webpage is easy to navigate. Coronavirus Updates also has current case information, sharing daily data of confirmed cases and deaths. The public can also locate updates by state, using the map provided on the webpage. There are also COVID stories shared from a blog. Expert tips are shared for teachers and the public can check their symptoms.
Drugs & Supplements
WebMD’s Drugs & Supplements has been updated. A person can browse drugs in alphabetical order or can perform a search. There is also a “Find Off-Market Drugs” feature for research. Users continue to have the option to search drug names or conditions. The drug names also contain the information whether it is an over-the-counter or prescription drug. On the left of the webpage, there are features for the Vitamins & Supplements Center to search vitamin needs and a lifestyle guide. The Drugs & Medications Center is also listed on the left of the webpage. Using this feature, a person can locate a pharmacy, interaction checker, and pill identifier.
The drug information remains and includes common brand names, generic names, and lowest prices. The section also lists uses, side effects, precautions, interactions, overdose, images, and reviews of the drugs. This section continues to be helpful for users who may have questions for their doctor or pharmacist before taking medication. This can also help users who may have side effects that are not common. The site directs users to call their doctor if they experience any of the listed side effects, and users also have the option to report the side effects to the FDA.
The WebMD mobile app continues to be popular for WebMD and remains user friendly. Users can access the symptom checker, conditions, drugs and treatments, and the pill identification tool, and now first aid essentials, local health listings due to COVID-19, and news on the go. The mobile app also continues to give users the opportunity to locate physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies in their local area. There are now mobile apps for WebMDRx, WebMD Pregnancy, WebMD Baby, WebMD Allergy, and WebMD Magazine to meet the needs of all users.
WebMD continues to remain free for hospitals and institutions, which can add the WebMD link to their website. WebMD also remains free for public use and user friendly for anyone who would like to research symptoms of a possible illness or disease. WebMD is financed by sponsors, advertisers, and third-party contributors.
WebMD continues to be a useful tool for anyone who is looking for possible side effects of medications, common topics, and symptoms that may need medical assistance, and now COVID-19 updates. WebMD also remains a great tool for healthcare professionals to use to inform the public about health issues and ways to improve health. I have used WebMD to look up symptoms of illnesses, and it has assisted me in my decisions to make an appointment with my primary care physician. I also share WebMD with family and friends to look up information and possibly look up symptoms, while encouraging them to check in with their primary care physician. WebMD also has the great feature of locating a telemedicine doctor.