Google hopes to provide useful health condition information to its users.
The internet world is teeming with all sorts of medical advice, from healthy diet options and weight-loss suggestions, and even a cure for toenail fungus using household cleaning products. Now, Google want to improve your chances of finding something meaningful when you search for your aches and pains, by launching a new service they are calling symptom search, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Starting on Monday, if you use the Google search app on your iPhone or Android phone to look up symptoms you are experiencing, digital cards will pop up on the screen, that give a brief description of common health issues that are related to the symptom for which you have searched.
But the advice in not just from some programmer’s opinion or life experience. The company sought help from Harvard Medical School to help construct the advice cards. The cards will mention self-treatment options, if they are available, but also will direct you to professional care if the problem is potentially serious.
But don’t worry, the same list of websites offering information for health conditions will still be listed below the new cards, so you can still find a cure using vinegar and baking soda, if you wish.
Veronica Pinchin, one of the product managers on the Google search team, said, “Before symptom search, you really had to know the exact name of what you were looking for to find the best health information. It was difficult to stumble on the right condition.”
Google admits the algorithm powering the new cards isn’t perfect, but they plan to continue to improve it as time passes. Currently about one percent of the queries on the company’s search engine are relates to medical symptoms. The company says they have amassed millions of cards for the different search possibilities.
Right now, the service is only available in the United States, through apps on mobile phones and tablets, and in the English language. The company says it has plans to add it to desktop browsers and international markets in the near future.
Ms. Pinchin added the search cards were not designed to replace doctors or come up with treatment plans, but the company wanted to make the information accessible to all, and in a language everyone can understand.