Culture

Feeling Yucky? Google Thinks It Knows What's Wrong With You.

Image via Google

Google is working to help you sort through health information on the Internet. 

Google recently announced that it will make it easier for us to get answers when we experience an ailment. Currently, a Google search for a symptom brings up a list of sites that cover health issues, such as WebMD, Wikipedia and numerous others, some filled with drug ads.

While, you can go to one of these sites and generally learn about the various causes, ranging from something very minor to more serious, there’s little way to know where you fall on the spectrum.

Google now wants to do more than just provide a list of possibilities; they will tell us what’s the most likely ailment, what to do about it, and when to visit a doctor. Google will present their information using their “Knowledge Graph” format that adds its curated information to a window at the top or to the side of the page.

Google’s official blog post notes that roughly 1 percent of the searches on Google are about symptoms, which is equivalent to millions of searches a month. But, according to Google, today’s search results can sometimes be confusing and result in unnecessary anxiety and stress.

When you enter a symptom with their new approach such as “headache on one side,” Google will display a list of related conditions (headache, migraine, tension headache, cluster headache, sinusitis, and common cold).  For individual symptoms like “headache,” they’ll also provide an overview, as well as information on how you can treat it yourself, and when you should visit your doctor. Google’s goal is to help you to learn more about the health conditions related to your symptoms, help you do more research, and figure out when you need the help of an expert.

Of course, searching for symptoms can be useful to learn about possible causes, but Google encourages you to consult your doctor. Expect to see this rolled out over the next few weeks, first in English in the U.S. and then to International markets later.

An app for health emergencies.

Now that most of us carry smartphones, there’s an app for protecting us in a health emergency. The SOS QR app from Humetrix allows you to store important medical information on an Android or iPhone, such as health conditions, allergies, immunizations, and medications, and makes it available to any medical professional in an emergency. The free app, designed by medical doctors, creates a QR code that can be saved on your lock screen, as well as printed on stickers that can be applied to other items to make it readily visible. When scanned your information is retrieved.

The app’s Pro version ($9.99) adds a one-touch SOS button that alerts your emergency contacts when you need help.

The app works in one of five languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese), depending on phone’s setting. In addition, when the QR code is scanned, SOS QR automatically generates email auto-alerts to your listed contacts, with a map with the location of the emergency. An OK button can also be used to alert your friends that you are ok in a disaster scenario.

If you have an Apple watch, the app appears on the dial and becomes an alert system. You can call your primary emergency contact with a tap on the watch and speak with the person directly. And if you press the app’s SOS button, it will also send a message with the exact GPS location to all of your designated emergency contacts.