Google Health symptoms search about to get much smarter

Chris Burns - Jun 20, 2016, 12:25 pm CDT
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Google Health symptoms search about to get much smarter

Google is about to take over “am I sick” searches. They’re going to do this with smart parsing of the terms you search – sussing out the ones they’re able to tell you more about. If, for example, you search for “why does the left side of my head hurt”, Google will tell you about the sort of headache you likely have. And why? Why would Google take the time to do this? Because “roughly 1 percent of searches on Google (think: millions!) are symptom related,” according to Google’s Veronica Pinchin, Product Manager.

Generally you’re going to search with your smartphone or desktop with Google to find health data if you’ve not already set up a doctor’s appointment. Of course you should always actually seek the attention of a doctor if your affliction is serious, but still: you’re likely set to search first.

Google knows this.

Google understands that it’s your first inclination to head to the search engine to find out whether your oddly-colored left big toe is something to worry about.

As such, they’ve decided to make their results a bit smarter. You won’t have to rely on the information of random weirdos posting oddities on the web.

Google suggests that “in the coming days” you’ll start to see different results when you search for health terms in Google (on your phone, at least).

1. Individual symptoms will show an overview description as well as info on self-treatment and “what might warrant a doctor’s visit.”
2. Searching for a more specific sort of affliction will give you a list of “related conditions.”

You’ll know them when you see them – they’ll appear in your Google Search app somewhat like what you’re seeing in the image at the head of this article.

WHEN? Soon. Google is sending updates to your Google app within the next few days, starting in the USA.

Google suggests that these results will be better – or at least somewhat better curated, at least – than what you’ve found in the past.

“We worked with a team of medical doctors to carefully review the individual symptom information,” said Pinchin, “and experts at Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic evaluated related conditions for a representative sample of searches to help improve the lists we show.”


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