Google turns virtual doctor with health advice through the Knowledge Graph
We're a global nation of hypochondriacs; Google has revealed that 5 percent of search traffic comes from people looking for health and well-being information. To help with any queries you might have about your body and different conditions, the search giant has furnished Knowledge Graph with a raft of medical data.
Got a funny looking rash? Google could help you to determine whether you have something to worry about, or whether it's something that's likely to clear up on its own. Knowledge is power, and medical knowledge is what Google is trying to arm people with to avoid the worry that comes with uncertainty.
The problem with Googling health problem is that, ordinarily, the results that are thrown up are entirely uncurated. You might find some valuable advice, but you are equally likely to find quack advice which is potentially dangerous. The difference with the medical information made available through Knowledge Graph is that real doctors have been involved in information-gathering and fact-checking.
Introducing the feature in a post on the Google blog, Prem Ramaswami said:
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.
Of course Google wants to protect its back -- there's no guarantee that data provided through the Knowledge Graph is one hundred percent accurate, and it's certainly not going to be a complete replacement for visiting your doctor. There's the disclaimer:
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.
The feature will be rolling out over the next few days, and can be accessed on phones, tablets and computers -- just ask natural-language questions. For now it's US-only, but there are plans for a wider release as well as information about more conditions and treatments.