The Internet is a hypochondriac’s worst nightmare — or best friend, depending on how you look at it. In the age of the web, our first instinct is to search Google for answers to any and all questions. When we’re not feeling well, that extends to searching for clues as to what our symptoms might mean. And here, of course, is where a problem arises: Google’s search results are flooded with sites that do nothing but game search engines, and the information on those sites is often completely useless. So when you search for answers as to what ailment might be responsible for your toe ache, you might come across a website that tells you it’s bronchitis or hyperhidrosis.
Now, Google may finally have an answer to this problem.
Google on Tuesday announced the addition of fact-checked health information to its Knowledge Graph. What that means for users is simply that Google will begin displaying answers to health-related questions in a special section at the top of search results, just like you can see in this example:
All of the information in the Knowledge Graph boxes at the top of search results comes from sources that Google has verified, so the likelihood is much slimmer that you’ll come away from a search about a runny nose thinking you have dysentery.
“Starting in the next few days, when you ask Google about common health conditions, you’ll start getting relevant medical facts right up front from the Knowledge Graph,” Google product manager Prem Ramaswami wrote in a blog post. “We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is—whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. 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.”