The Common Characteristics of Valuable Web Pages

The "hypothetical" concept that I chose to explore for this assignment was Medicare and it's impact on overall hospital reimbursement.

Although I am not a teacher, I believed that it would be important for me to address a topic that is likely to be an area for which I may be asked to teach at some point in the future. The issues surrounding the recent changes to the Medicare System are somewhat familiar to me, so it would be readily apparent, if a search were to return sites unrelated to this subject matter.

I decided to use 3 popular search engines to aid me with this assignment. The engines I chose were as follows:

Since I am a monthly subscriber to AOL, I have grown accustomed to relying on this search engine as a prime means of finding information. In fact, I had never heard of Google.com before taking this course. I was very curious to see how Google would match up when compared to AOL and Yahoo.

The search element that I entered into all 3 engines was "Hospital Reimbursement and Medicare". The following are the results of each search:

Google.com - This site returned the first 1-10 of 49,500 related topics. (An interesting point to note was that, Google.com informed me that I did not need to use the operator "and" to assist me with their search. This fact was surprising to me. I had always assumed that "and" was a universal operator that was needed in order to simplify any search.)

Yahoo.com - This site returned the first 1-5 of only 5 related topics.

AOL.com - This site listed the first 1-10 of 327 related sites.

In order to validate the effectiveness of my search, I decided to use the more generalized keyword, "Medicare". The results of this new search were as follows:

Google.com- this site returned the first 1-10 of 920,000 related words/terms.

Yahoo.com- this site returned the first 1-19 of 160 related words/terms.

AOL.com- this site returned the first 1-10 of 1779 related words/terms.

Of the 3 search engines used, I'd have to say that, the initial search (Hospital Reimbursement and Medicare) performed on Yahoo.com produced the least, useful and effective sites. Considering that Yahoo is one of the largest and most popular search engines, I was actually quite surprised at the fact that the number of hits was so low; only "5". Of the 5 sites returned, 4 were businesses that were selling their services. These proved to be of no value to me. The fifth site was a link to Medical Insurance coding seminars, which, technically, would be considered, related to Medicare but would not provide me with any information that I could use now.

All and all, I was not happy with the result of this search and would probably think twice before choosing Yahoo for future business-related searches. In all fairness, the keyword search on Yahoo was relatively decent, in that it got me to the main Medicare sites.

AOL, Yahoo and Google were able to produce, in their first 10 hits, the following key sites"

www.medicare.gov (Official site)

www.hcfa.gov/medicare/medicare.htm

www.medicarerights.org/Index.htm

These 3 websites are excellent and resourceful tools that can be appreciated by many a healthcare financial analyst. Additionally, Google.com gave me two other great sites, which are:

http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/medicare/medicare.htm and:

www.ama-assn.org/med-sci/cpt/medicare.html

I would like to add that the keyword search on AOL, resulted in 3 inappropriate sites. I refer to them as inappropriate because the content was completely or partially unrelated to the initial topic. An example of inappropriate sites would be:

www.mailorderdrugs.com/mailorder-packet.htm

www.ohsu.edu/hr/hosp.htm (Job postings)

www.americanhospice.com

Having been exposed to Google.com in this exercise, I can truly say that I have found a well-constructed database. I am truly impressed by the precision and sophistication of the hits. In other words, I am sold!