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October 22, 2010 [posted]

MedlinePlus® Web Service

In September 2010, NLM® released a search-based Web service that provides access to MedlinePlus health topic data in Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. Software developers can utilize this service to build applications that incorporate health information provided by MedlinePlus.

The MedlinePlus Web service accepts English keyword searches as HTTP requests and returns links to relevant English-language MedlinePlus health topics in ranked order. The output also includes supplemental data such as health topic summaries, related vocabulary, and keyword-in-context snippets. The service returns this output in structured XML format.

Documentation containing detailed descriptions of the parameters for keyword search requests and the structure of the XML output can be found on the MedlinePlus Web service page. The Web service is updated daily, is free of charge, does not require registration or licensing, and allows for unlimited data calls.

NLM Web services such as the one provided by MedlinePlus allow developers to tap into MedlinePlus data to build mashups and display information in new and innovative ways. In addition to the Web service, NLM also offers publicly available XML files containing the full set of MedlinePlus English and Spanish health topic data. These XML files are updated weekly.

Links to all NLM Web services and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can be found on the NLM APIs page.

By Sarena Burgess
Public Services Division

Burgess S. MedlinePlus® Web Service. NLM Tech Bull. 2010 Sep-Oct;(376):e12.

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