Google will now be providing users who search for information about common health conditions information in addition to the search results. New data could include typical symptoms, treatments and whether a given condition is contagious.
The new information will appear in what the company calls the Knowledge Graph, which provides relevant facts boxed to the right of search results on a desktop and in line with search results in Google's apps and mobile browsers.
The information is sourced from the “most reliable sites” on the web, and will be reviewed by physicians at Google and the Minneapolis-based Mayo Clinic, Google said.
Google already provides Wikipedia entries and other aggregated information in the Knowledge Graph along with searches for medical conditions. But the distinguishing characteristic of the new feature will be added credibility, the company contends. Each piece of data will be reviewed by an average of 11.1 doctors — led by Google's Dr. Kapil Parakh — before being published, according to the company.
Entries for some conditions will include high-quality visuals created by licensed medical illustrators.
Google made sure to emphasize that the search results are not intended as medical advice. Product Manager Prem Ramaswami wrote in a blog post that the quick facts should help patients understand what questions to ask their doctor.
But that's not to say the company isn't interested in facilitating medical advice. Google confirmed in October that it was piloting a telehealth program in which users searching for a medical condition could click to “talk with a doctor now.”
A Google spokesman wouldn't say whether there are plans to integrate telehealth capabilities into the feature, maintaining that the latest launch is just about the search results.
One in 20 Google searches are for health-related information, Google said.
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