Google has been known to continually push the envelope when it comes to providing relevant information to users of its search engine. We've seen Google Search evolve into an engine which recommends restaurants, performs calculations, displays live scores for sporting events and works like a mini-IMDB for celebrity searches. And now, Google is adding another feature to its search engine - the ability to display medical information for relevant queries.
Google will now be able to display information about any medical condition or illness that users might be searching for. For example, if you search for the term 'malaria', you will get a snippet which describes the symptoms, contagiousness and treatment for malaria. For certain diseases, you might be presented with a graphic which illustrates the areas of the body which are affected by the condition. All of the information Google will present is curated by an in-house team of doctors and the team at the Mayo Clinic.
This new module is part of Google's Knowledge Graph - a database which allows the search engine to determine connections between different items of information. Product Manager Prem Ramaswami stated that approximately one out of 20 searches Google receives are related to medical conditions. He also warned users that any information which pops up in the health snippets is for information purposes only and shouldn't be acted upon without consulting a healthcare professional.
Now that wearables and health apps on mobile phones are gaining popularity, Google has decided to enter the health-tracking market. 2014 was a banner year for wearable technology. With the upcoming release of the Apple Watch and an increasing number of Android Wear powered gadgets, 2015 looks like the year when wearables will finally become mainstream.
According to a survey performed by the American firm PwC, approximately 86% clinicians believe that mobile apps will become a critical tool for physicians to track patient health over the next five years. This situation presents a tremendous opportunity for local healthcare providers to tap into local searches. Doctors and medical organizations can use Google's health initiative to create customized content which will help them acquire new patients.
Google's decision to provide health-related content in the search results has ensured that users and medical professionals will use their search engine differently in the future.