Google has teamed up with the Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic to build a search feature for its mobile app, called Symptom Search, which promises to make search results more accurate and useful for both patients and doctors.
The search engine giant says it made the move after determining that 1% of all searches worldwide are symptom related.
The updated Google search app for both Android and iOS will match searches of symptoms against a medical database. The results will pop up as digital cards, which briefly describe a common health problem related to the search term.
When users look up symptoms like “headache on one side,” Google will show the user a list of related conditions, for example migraine, tension headache or sinusitis.
Where possible, the cards will provide an overview description along with information on self-treatment options and what might warrant a doctor’s visit.
Google says it creates its list of symptoms by comparing Web results with “high-quality medical information” sourced from doctors for its Knowledge Graph, and then reviewed symptom information with Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic experts.
“We worked with a team of medical doctors to carefully review the individual symptom information, and experts at Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic evaluated related conditions for a representative sample of searches to help improve the lists we show,” wrote Product Manager on Google’s search team, Veronica Pinchin, on the official Google blog.
Symptom search is currently available only in the US in English on–iOS and Android apps, and in Google.com search results on mobile phones and tablets.
Google plans to make searches available via desktop browsers and to international markets in more languages, but did not indicate when.
“We can’t replace doctors who diagnose patients or come up with treatment plans, but we want to help improve the conversation. One of our big focuses here is making this all very accessible. We want this to be in a language that everyone can understand, not just doctors,” concluded Pinchin.