Let’s be honest: the Internet has made slight hypochondriacs of us all. According to Google, one in 20 Google searches are conducted in the quest for health information, which is why the search giant is doubling down on the medical information it presents.
Starting this week, whenever you key in an illness-related search on Google, you’ll get a snapshot of medical facts right upfront. For example, if you type in “migraines” or “food allergies” into the search box, now a white box will come up in the top right hand corner of the screen with a description of the ailment, with links to causes, symptoms, tests, treatments, prognosis, prevention and the National Library of Medicine. The info is accompanied by a line cautioning users to “consult a doctor if you have a medical concern.”
Product manager Prem Ramaswami explained in a company blog post that the search information was put together by a team of doctors led by Dr. Kapil Parahk, and M.D., MPH and Ph.D who taught at Johns Hopkins and worked with the White House before joining Google, and was fact-checked by medical doctors at the Mayo Clinic and Google.
While the new feature is intended to be useful, Ramaswami warned that it isn’t meant to serve as medical advice. “We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions,” he wrote in a blog post. “What we present is intended for informational purposes only—and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern. But we hope this can empower you in your health decisions by helping you learn more about common conditions.”
Back in October, Google was reportedly piloting a new feature that allowed users who look up health symptoms to instantly video chat with a doctor. The company is also said to be developing an ingestible cancer-detecting pill and contact lenses that monitor blood sugar.