Coming to Google: Verified health facts in search results

Feb 10, 2015 3:00 PM by CBS News

We all do it: You start to feel sick and quickly hop on Google to search for the likely cause of your symptoms. In fact, the company says that one in 20 Google searches is for a health-related topic, which is why it has decided to focus on giving better results.

Google announced Tuesday that is has been working with a team of doctors to carefully "compile, curate, and review" medical information that will come up at the top of search results. Rather than leaving users to wade through lines of unverified links and misinformation, Google will highlight high quality sources.

The company used an algorithm to gather info on some of the most commonly-searched maladies from sites such as MedScape, Nature, WebMD, National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, then they had their experts -- doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic -- check it all for accuracy and refine it.

They've even commissioned illustrations by professional medical illustrators.

When you search, a box will pop up offering information on such things as 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. It will roll out on the Google app and online over the next few days.

Of course, Google is careful to remind people that the information is no substitute for actually visiting a doctor.

"We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions," Google product manager Prem Ramaswami wrote in a blog post. "What we present is intended for informational purposes only -- and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern."

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Most Popular

Top Videos

1 2 3 4