In the last few years Google has been introducing more and more answers into its search results. Originally a search for Taylor Swift would get a list of websites which featured her but now almost half the screen is taken up with the Knowledge Graph – a summary of information algorithmically scraped from the web about your search query. The information is meant to answer the most simple questions about your query and put the websites in context.
Whether we like it or not Google searches have become the biggest dispensary of medical information with around one in twenty searches being directly medical related. Google has realised this and yesterday announced a new initiative to try to improve the quality and trustworthiness of results. In the past Knowledge Graph information has been completely computer generated but Google has chosen instead to use qualified humans to curate medical information. They are aiming to provide in-depth information for over 400 individual medical conditions and say all the information has been reviewed by an average of 11.1 doctors. Google has also commissioned a number of images and illustrations specifically for this.
Google is very clear that the information should not be taken as medical advice and that this is only meant to be an introduction to the wider web. The idea is that when they do seek out more information it will be with a good reliable grounding.
The new service will roll out over the next few days for US English systems with Android and iOS updates rolling out in the US over the next few days. They plan to expand outside the US in the future but there is no timeline given, probably for legal reasons.