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Google Search introduces health cards for India with support for 400 diseases

Google India in partnership with Apollo Hospitals announced a new feature that shows disease information in a card-like format.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi |
April 5, 2016 6:13:42 pm
Google, Google cards, Google disease cards, Google cards on disease, Apollo, dengue, malaria, Zika virus, Google search, Android, iOS, smartphones, technology, technology news Google India in partnership with Apollo Hospitals announced a new feature that shows disease information in a card-like format.

Google India in partnership with Apollo Hospitals today announced a new feature on search that shows disease information in a card-like format right on top of results.

The cards will appear on mobile and desktop search and Google has worked with Apollo to curate and create the content. The feature, which has been live in the US for the past year, was launched in Brazil two weeks back. India is the third country to get it.

Google says the India content has data for over 400 diseases and the company plans to expand the database. For instance, when a user types Dengue or Malaria, the information card appears right on top with an illustration, the symptoms, possible treatments, even data on which age groups are more susceptible. Users can also save the information into a PDF file and email it to family and friends. The content will displayed in Hindi or English, depending on the users’ settings.

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“For a lot of users, it is difficult to trust some of the information that is available on the web on medical issues. The other problem with medical results is whether the information is based on actual science data or is it coming from a blog, which might not always be accurate. Our aim is to provide a framework for users so that they can find the right information on medical conditions,” said Prem Ramaswami, Google Search Product Manager.

According to Google, 1 in 20 search queries is regarding a medical condition. Google says it has of late seen a 94 per cent growth in Hindi content on the web, while English content has grown by only 19 per cent. “We are starting with Hindi as the content on this is growing very fast. Of course, we want to expand to other regional languages as well,” add Ramaswami, explaining why only Hindi is now available as a local language option.

According to Google, the idea is to bridge the language difference between layman terms and scientific terms for diseases and make it easier for individuals to get basic facts. “We worked with Apollo to ensure accurate data. We have a rigorous process for how the content is vetted, it was then reviewed by the experts at Apollo, followed by another editorial review from our end. We’ve tuned the content for India. For instance, when we were launching, the doctors at Apollo told us that we have to include the neglected tropical diseases. We’ve also got a card for Zika virus, which has recently become a threat,” said Google’s Project Manager.

Read: Google testing AI-based messaging app: Here’s why

Like other search products, Google says it has kept the cards ‘Lite’ for India users making sure that the information will load even on 2G connections.

Google, however, is very clear that the cards should not be seen as a substitute for a doctor. “We can’t capture the nuance of a medical condition with these cards. The idea is to help patients have a better conversation with their doctors. No way are we saying patients should ignore a doctor in case of a medical condition,” says Ramaswami. This also explains why Google has chosen not to show medical treatments for a certain disease.

“The health card can really help bridge a need in India. As a doctor, I’ve seen so many parents come in worried that their child who has celiac disease or allergy might get gut cancer. I’ve had to tell parents that it’s a rare scenario and they are convinced because they have read about this somewhere. An information card of this sort, which has been vetted by the medical community can help patients and spread awareness,” says Dr Anupam Sibal, Medical Director Apollo Hospitals.

Google and Apollo worked with expert teams from six hospitals for the cards. The cards feature has already gone live on Google search for mobile, desktops, Android and iOS apps.

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