According to Google, 1 in 20 searches are for health-related information. That seemed high to me at first but then I thought about the last time my son thought he had broken his foot, or I had a cough that wouldn’t go away.
Our first stop wasn’t to call our doctor, instead it was to Google the symptoms and look for remedies or recommendations. However, this method can also lead you to wonder if you are getting the correct information. Was it a break or just a sprain? Should I rush to the ER for my cough or just try some tea and honey?
Google has decided to capitalize on this need for reliable health information by adding it into their knowledge graph. The search engine will be adding information from real doctors on search engine results pages, in addition to information generated from typical organic and paid searches. The reasoning behind this was that medical information is too important to rely on the same sources that algorithms scrub from the usual internet sources. Any website who has good enough SEO can show up on the results page without necessarily qualifying as a quality source of information.
Instead, cards will be added to the search page with health related information such as typical symptoms, treatments, and details on how common the condition is. This information will come from not one, but a team of Google doctors, as well as physicians from their partners at the Mayo Clinic. Cards will have information such as graphs, charts, and illustrations to educate you on the condition enough to improve search or to better consult with your own doctor.
Google is quick to point out that all advice should be taken under advisement from your actual physician and that they are not trying to replace a visit to the doctor. However, the aim is to provide reputable advice from qualified resources and licensed physicians rather than whoever may win the ranking game.
What do you think? It seems like another way that healthcare is becoming more personalized for consumers without having to book an appointment through their physician. However, will this help practices by increasing the number of educated patients or hurt them as more and more people try to remedy themselves?
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