New Google Algorithm Aims to Improve Self-Diagnosis

Andrew LaSane
iStock / iStock

When you're feeling ill or want to track down the reason behind a pesky rash, the internet can be a scary (and misleading) place. Google says it aims to change that. STAT reports that Google has collaborated with medical experts at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic to develop a new algorithm that makes the results of symptom searches less extreme and more helpful for accurately addressing medical issues and questions. 

According to a post on the Google blog, about 1 percent of all searches on the site are related to medical symptoms, which equals millions of coughs, aches, pains, and itches. With the new algorithm, users will be presented with a list of related terms, an overview of what they mean, how one might go about treating their malady, and when that ailment might be best treated by a medical professional.

The post also notes that searches for medical advice are "intended for informational purposes only" and that only doctors should provide official diagnoses. The updated search results should be available in English across the U.S. this week, with other languages and locations expected to follow in the near future.


[h/t STAT]