Continuous search query means that you set up a search on GYM (Google, Yahoo, MSN) and subscribe to the RSS feed of it. The search engines perform the search continuously (every 20 minutes) and whenever they find something new, you get notified via RSS. Google and Yahoo offer the continuous search for their news section and MSN makes it available for everything, including plain search.
I use the continuous search queries to gather information whenever something new is published about the Cleveland Clinic or any other topic that interests me (from disease conditions to stock market). The IT department liked the idea so much that they now feature the RSS feeds for the Cleveland Clinic in the News on the front page: RSS Feeds for the Cleveland Clinic
Information is power. Dr. Brilliant is the newly appointed CEO of Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, and he is planning to harness some of this power to improve public health. He is reportedly working on a new Google spider which will continuously search the web for news stories that may signal an emerging epidemic. This is how the Global Public Health Intelligence Network found the first cases of bird flu last year.
TED Talks: Larry Brilliant: The case for informed optimism.
Brilliant Google Exec to Use Internet to Prevent Disease. Medicalinformaticsinsider.com.
RSS Feeds for the Cleveland Clinic
Google Alerts Tutorial To Help You Stay Ahead of the Curve. DigitalInspiration.
Image source: Wikipedia
Q&A: Larry Brilliant. Nature News, 01/2008.