Google adds fact-checked health advice to search results, to combat bad information

Information has been reviewed by Google’s doctors, and will be shown within search results

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 10 February 2015 13:30 GMT
A doctor prepares a prescription on a computer screen. All of Google's new information has been checked by real doctors
A doctor prepares a prescription on a computer screen. All of Google's new information has been checked by real doctors (Getty Images)

Google is to improve its search for people looking for health information, showing curated health information to avoid the sometimes wrong and often terrifying results for health queries.

In the coming days, when users search for symptoms or health conditions they will be shown fact-checked information within Google, rather than on external websites. The advice will appear in Google’s Knowledge Graph, the cards that pop up within results that currently show simple information like how to change Google’s settings.

The cards will show how common conditions are, and whether they’re contagious or critical, as well as other information. Some of the cards will even show illustrations.

All of the information has been fact checked by medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic, the company said. The project has been led by one of the search giant’s own doctors.

The company says that one in 20 searches on the site are for health-related information, and that the new feature was prompted by being unable to find out information on common health problems.

“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,” wrote Prem Ramaswami, a product manager, in a blog post announcing the new feature.

The company warned that the results shouldn’t be seen as medical advice, and that users should always consult professionals if they are worried.

The feature will initially be rolled out in the US, in English. As well as broadening it to feature more medical conditions, it hopes to take it to other parts of the world.

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