American residents who Google their symptoms will now see medical facts directly in their search results, in a move from the internet giant to provide easier access to health information.
However, UK residents may face a wait for the service, which is only being rolled out in the US to start.
The medical facts will be incorporated into the search engine’s Knowledge Graph, which collates facts, data and illustrations from various sources in fact boxes accompanying search results.
In a blog announcing the new feature, Google product manager Prem Ramaswami said the company wants to make it easier for people to find simple health information when searching online.
“This stuff really matters: one in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. And you should find the health information you need more quickly and easily.”
Ramaswami said the fact box will include typical symptoms and treatments and details on how common the condition is, including information about whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, and what ages it affects.
Some conditions will also come with high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators, he said.
Ramaswami said all the facts represent “real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web”, and were checked for accuracy by medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic after being complied by a different team of doctors.
He said the facts are “intended for informational purposes only”, and noted that a healthcare professional should always be consulted for people with a medical concern.
While the feature is only being rolled out in the US to start, Ramaswami said Google has plans to cover more medical conditions and other parts of the world.
The Guardian reported that the new information will be integrated into Google’s US search and applications over the rest of the week, starting with 400 medical conditions ranging from diabetes to measles.
The announcement is just the latest in a number of moves from Google to enter the health technology market.
Last March, it revealed that it was developing Android Wear, a version of its popular Android operating system designed specifically for smartwatches and other wearable devices with the potential to target the health wearables market.
That was followed last October by the launch of its Google Fit app to tracks steps and interface with wearables and other fitness applications.