Google's New Health Search Will Help You Find Accurate Medical Info Online
A new tool from Google won't diagnose you, but it will give you expert-backed facts if your worried about a health condition
You're probably more likely to Google a symptom (or call your mom) than call up your actual doctor at the first sign you might be getting sick. And you're not alone. When examining their search data, Google found that one in 20 searches were related to health issues, so they decided to launch Google Health Search, a new tool that gives you relevant medical facts when you look up common health conditions. (Is an Online Diagnosis from WebMD, Mayo Clinic, or Other Sites Really Safe?)
The service, which was announced today, works through the Google mobile app (on iPhone and Android) or on your computer at Google.com. It will launch with over 400 health concerns, and will show you typical symptoms and treatments as well as details on how common the condition is, whether it's critical, and if it's contagious. (PS: You won't believe these 8 Weird Things That Are Contagious.)
Before you start stressing about how this might affect your hypochondrism, you should know that Google teamed up with a group of doctors to carefully compile and review medical info and facts from high-quality medical sources to be representative of real-life clinical knowledge. The idea is for Google to sort through all the medical advice on the web and make sure Google users are getting the most accurate information. Google also enlisted licensed medical illustrators to create textbook-worthy visuals. And, by the time the info reaches you, it will have been reviewed by an average of 11.1 doctors, including the Mayo Clinic.
Google hopes users will be able to use this as a way to be more informed patients (not to encourage you to self-diagnose cancer when you have a sore throat), but if you suspect something might be wrong, they still advise you consult a medical professional. We've got to keep the doctors in business somehow, right? (Remember these 6 Things You're Not Telling Your Doc But Should.)