In the context of document retrieval in the biomedical domain, this paper explores the complex relationship between the quality of initial query results and the overall utility of an interactive system. We demonstrate that a content-similarity browsing tool can compensate for poor retrieval results, and that the relationship between retrieval perfor- mance and overall utility is non-linear. Arguments are advanced with user simulations, which characterize the relevance of documents that a user might encounter with dierent browsing strategies. With broader implications to IR, this work provides a case study of how user simulations can be exploited as a formative tool for automatic utility evalua- tion. Simulation-based studies provide researchers with an additional evaluation tool to complement interactive and Craneld-style experiments.