In October 2014, Google revealed that it was working on a tool to mitigate cyberchondria, or the term used to describe a condition of anxiety borne from researching and reading online information pertaining to one’s health symptoms. Anyone who has ever used a search engine to ascertain an ailment based on a symptom has likely come across opinion articles or other information purporting to be fact that misleads the user. Now, Google has released an improved tool to its search engine that will present the user with a more fact-based answer to a medical question.
The company blog states that upon requesting information, the user will receive answers from the Knowledge Graph, and that Google has collaborated with doctors to ensure accuracy of health-related information:
We worked with a team of medical doctors (led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.) to carefully compile, curate, and review this 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.
When Google first revealed its interest in improving accuracy of medical answers for users, the company also mentioned that it has partnered with medical groups such as Scripps Health and One Medical, which will make their doctors available for this service.
This is also not the first move of Google into the healthcare space: it unveiled several other partnerships with medical groups last year, its project to develop the glucose-reading contact lens, and its general integration of medicine and online-based services as it becomes a bigger part of the mobile health technology scene. Additionally, Google Ventures has been a big proponent of investigations into how technologies like big data can aid research on cancer and other public health problems. As such a huge search engine aims at improving user tools to attain accurate medical information, perhaps other search engines will fall in line.