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Dr. Google will show you health info right in the search results
Google is continuing its quest to answer the world’s questions, with a new category being added to its Knowledge Graph – facts on medical conditions.
How many times have you searched for a symptom or condition and ended up with a jumble of confusing, questionable, or contradictory sources? Navigating the labyrinth of made-for-SEO pages can give you a very real headache, and in some cases, a bout of anxiety. Google is hoping to spare you that ordeal by showing information about common medical problems right in the search results.
The new feature will show how common a condition is, what groups of people are likely to be affected by it, typical symptoms, common treatments, and the type of medical professionals that specialize in the specific condition. Results for many conditions are accompanied by high-quality illustrations that explain the problem in a clear way.
All the info is fact-checked and verified by medical doctors
Very importantly, all the information is fact-checked and verified by medical doctors, with both Google and the renowned Mayo Clinic. However, Google warns that the data is for “informational purpose” only, and should not be treated as medical advice.
Google will first roll out the new feature to US-based English users, but the plan is to make it available in more languages and locales. Information on more medical conditions will be added in the future.
As Google emphasized, this feature will never replace the opinion of an MD or other healthcare worker. But it’s good to see Google attempting to improve the experience of researching medical info – having quick access to fact-checked info about common problems should be immensely helpful for many people.
It’s interesting to see Google pushing out this feature at a time when the US is embroiled in a controversy about vaccination, measles, whooping cough, and other preventable diseases. Measles itself is – probably not coincidentally – mentioned in Google’s blog post.
With the addition of medical data to the Knowledge Graph, Google is taking another step towards becoming an answer engine, rather than the search engine it started live as. The goal is clear: Google wants to provide real answers to your questions, not just ten blue links. Android’s Google Now is a big component of that effort, but one could say that everything Google does is to further this goal.