More than a third of Americans have gone online to look up health information. With two thirds of all internet searches going through Google, chances are people are turning to to Google when they have health questions. And now Google is delivering curated, reviewed answers for almost a thousand different conditions.
Earlier this year, Google announced that it was collaborating with health institutions to deliver curated health information. So when someone searches about, say, hypertension or high blood pressure, they get a plain-language explanation of what it is, symptoms, prevalence, and more.
They also highlighted that they are being responsive to search trends, which we’ve also seen with their use of searches related to influenza. For example, the August outbreaks of Legionnaires disease in New York led to a surge in searches for more information; that’s shown in the Google Trends graph below.
In response, Google quickly added Legionnaires to its covered health conditions providing vetted information about the disease, symptoms, and treatments. That function, in particular, could have a really big impact on how the public learns about conditions that, for whatever reasons, suddenly get a ton of media attention.
Another nice feature is answers to common questions embedded within search results. For Dengue fever, that includes questions like how it is transmitted and whether there is a vaccine. Answers are sourced, in this case, from the CDC.
Patients have been coming into clinic armed with Google’d health information for years. Thanks to this impressive effort, now that information will be more reliable and accurate.