Google Works With Mayo Clinic to Share Health Knowledge

One trusted source to another

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The goal of this project is to provide medical information in a digestible way and basic answers quickly.

Can't remember who pitched the only perfect game of a World Series? Check Google. Can't name all the Spice Girls? Google can. Can't recall the number that starts with a one and is followed by 100 zeros? Google googol.

The Internet search engine is so widely used and so good at producing the information we're looking for that it long ago became part of our daily lives. There's no need to sift through mountains of data and endless links to find the few nuggets we need. So naturally, when people have health concerns, one of their first stops is Google. But anyone who has searched the Internet to self-diagnose knows the dizzying, and sometimes scary, array of results.

To help give their users the best health information possible, Google now provides relevant medical facts upfront. For example, a search for arthritis will show, beside the resulting links, a few basic facts about arthritis and a definition. To ensure quality and accuracy, all of the gathered facts were confirmed by medical doctors from around the United States, which were then vetted by expert clinicians at Mayo Clinic.

The goal of this new feature is to provide medical information in a digestible way and to get basic answers quickly. Using Mayo Clinic as a primary source, Google provides information about symptoms and treatments, whether or not it's critical, or contagious, what ages it typically affects, and more.

"We worked with a team of medical doctors, led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, to carefully compile, curate and review this information," says Prem Ramaswami, Google product manager. "All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the Web, and the information has been checked by medical doctors at Google and Mayo Clinic for accuracy."

He and Philip T. Hagen, M.D., Mayo Clinic's Global Business Solutions' medical director for Healthy Living, point out that the information is not intended to be medical advice, and it is presented for informational purposes only. Dr. Hagen notes that cases can vary in severity from person to person and that health information searchers should consult a health care professional if they have a medical concern.

"As an editor and physician, I know how difficult it is to present concise, useful information," says Dr. Hagen. "I think these should be viewed as the first stop for those needing health information, and as people need more information, they can quickly connect to a medical website like MayoClinic.org."

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