Google rolls out new feature for health related searches – symptom search

There is a health issue with Google as its search results for medical symptoms aren’t quite useful at best. There are times when the results are alarmingly off base, and frustrate patients and doctors alike. But, now the Alphabet Inc.-owned search giant said that it has come up with a cure. It released a new feature known as symptom search on Monday.

Now, when a user will use Google search app for iPhone and Android searching for something like ‘my tummy hurts’, ‘skin rash’, or ‘headache on one side’, he will be offered with around six digital cards to swipe through right under the search box. Every card will briefly describe a common health issue linked to the search term.

The symptom search cards have been developed by Google in partnership with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic. In some possible cases, the cards will tell if self-treatment options are there, or if a related health issue is quite serious to warrant professional medical care. Under these cars there will be the old same list of both useful and useless websites, as they may be.

Veronica Pinchin, a product manager on Google’s 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”.

Seth Martin, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a practicing cardiologist, said that the internet is full of wrong medical advice, and as a result highly occupied doctors often attend needlessly worried patients.

“According to the announcement, searches for specific symptoms like “headache on one side” will display a list of related conditions, while a search for an individual symptom such as “headache” will return a description of the symptom, self-treatment options and possible health issues related to the symptom that may necessitate a doctor’s visit,” according to a news report published by Search Engine Land.

Google says it worked with a team of medical doctors, experts at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic when pulling together information for symptom-related searches, and that its symptom-related information is curated from “high-quality medical information” pulled from the Knowledge Graph.

The new symptom-related search results are being rolled out exclusively on mobile in the coming days, and only in English in the US. Google says it plans to include more symptom-related searches and will eventually extend such search results globally in other languages.

According to a report in Cnet by Lance Whitney, “When you search for medical ailments, Google typically points you to specialized sites such as WebMD, the Mayo Clinic and Medline Plus. But you sometimes have to cull through pages and pages of information to get what you seek. Finding and viewing all the information in one single place can simplify your search.”

To build the new feature, Google put together a list of symptoms found in search results, everything from “headache on one side” to “bruise around eye” to “lower back pain.” Google then checked those symptoms against medical information gathered from doctors for its Knowledge Graph, an advanced feature that tries to deliver and display a more comprehensive collection of data.

“To get this information, we worked with a team of medical doctors to carefully review the individual symptom information and develop the way we build the related health conditions list,” a Google spokeswoman said. “We also had experts at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic evaluate related conditions for a representative set of searches to help improve the lists we show.”

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