Google to put accurate medical facts into its search results

10 Feb 2015

Search giant Google said it is changing how it displays medical search queries and will now put fact-checked medical information into its Knowledge Graph.

According to Google, one in every 20 searches is health-related.

The new medical information will underpin Google’s instant search results and will power the Google Now personal assistant and app.

“So starting in the next few days, when you ask Google about common health conditions, you’ll start getting relevant medical facts right up front from the Knowledge Graph,” said Google product manager Prem Ramaswami.

“We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is – whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators.

Internet search giant Google’s fact-checked medical search results example on mobile

“Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.”

Search results are not intended as medical advice

Ramaswami said Google works with a team of medical doctors led by fellow Googler Dr Kapil Parakh to carefully compile, curate and review medical information.

“All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web, and the information has been checked by medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

“That doesn’t mean these search results are intended as medical advice. We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions. 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,” Ramaswami said.

Google will be rolling out the new fact-checked medical search results in the coming days in the US in English.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years