WSJ – Google has a health problem. Its search results for medical symptoms aren’t very useful at best, and in many cases are alarmingly off base, frustrating patients and doctors alike.
The Alphabet Inc.-owned search giant says it has developed a cure. On Monday, it rolled out a new feature called symptom search.
The next time you use the Google search app for iPhone and Android to look up something like “my tummy hurts,” “skin rash,” or “headache on one side,” you’ll see about a half-dozen digital cards you can swipe through right below the search box. Each of these cards briefly describes a common health problem related to your search term.
Great. This is exactly what we need. Let’s make it easier for all of these Arm Chair Physicians to diagnose themselves and others. It’s bad enough that if you cough around your mother she’s able to diagnose your terminal illness on the spot, but now we have to worry about Aunt Susan becoming a fully functioning Mayo Clinic any time she’s within arms reach of an iPhone. Yes, the same aunt that is sending you chain messages about people sticking AIDS needles under the gas pump handles in 2016 now has the ability to self diagnose without so much as even clicking through to a website. Right there in the search results.
The worst part about this is that hypochondriacs will be even more unbearable. Consider this in an office setting. The person who always has something wrong with them, is always thinking they’re sick and always has an ache or a pain, can now put a full fledged diagnoses to their phantom illness. Now you have to hear about all of the potential illnesses that it might be. We’re just removing the barrier to entry. It’s too easy!
I tend to use these features for their opposite purposes. I will have a pain, or a cough, or a sniffle, I’ll go online, and i’ll convince myself that it’s the absolute most minor ailment ever. Anything to keep from going to the doctor. My options to choose between could be a pollen allergy, and full blown stroke, and I’ll always air on the side of less severe. For a split second, I think to myself, “what if this is it? What if I’m actually dying?” Followed immediately by “nah, it’s just a cold.” As they say, you can’t be sick if you never see a doctor….or something like that.