Mayo Clinic and Google – A Match Made in Cyber-Medical Heaven
In today’s information world of cyber-geniuses and webhead graduates, in just few quick key strokes you too can become your very own “Internet MD” with a few search engine clicks and digital marketing practices. Just tap in your symptoms, find a medical diagnosis and “viola!” you’ve got all the information you need to treat and cure your ailment!
Or do you?
We all do it.
Maybe it’s a belly ache that just won’t quit, a mysterious rash or a shooting pain. Whatever the symptoms may be, for so many of us, our first response is to “Google it”.
Google reported this year that one in twenty Google searches is for health-related information. Furthermore, according to another current study, 72% of adult internet users in the US go online to learn about medical conditions. Hence, SEO strategies and digital marketing strategy has become a game in of itself.
Combing the internet for details and information is extremely common and has essentially become an innate behavior, but just how factual is the information we’re finding?
Many physicians have expressed their concerns and warn of the risks involved in self-diagnosis. They are reporting an increasing number of patients coming into their offices convinced they are suffering from obscure diseases they discover from a symptom search on the internet.
We’re all aware that searching our symptoms on the internet may not yield definitive results, but we can’t seem to help ourselves.
The results from a mere search for stomach cramps can vary from gas to intestinal block to tumor, leaving the often untrained user to determine the vast difference.
As you might expect, searching the internet for symptoms has been linked to increased levels of anxiety and has resulted in the creation of a new colloquialism: the “cyberchondriac”.
According to Wikipedia, the term “cyberchondriac” is a combination of the terms “cyber” and “hypochondriac”, and refers to the “unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomology based on review of search results and literature online.”
Despite the psychological consequences and number of erroneous diagnoses, the search for medical information on the internet is not about to stop. The good news is, our friends at Google and Mayo Clinic have recognized the need and have partnered to create more credible systems for displaying health-related search results.
Google, the ultimate digital marketing platform and Mayo Clinic, a respected leader in healthcare branding and healthcare social media, came together this year in a heavenly union to create a powerhouse of medical information.
Beginning last February, users that search for common health conditions started to receive medical facts right in the Google Knowledge Bar at the top of their search results. These medical facts are compiled and curated from a team of medical doctors and reviewed for accuracy by physicians at Google and Mayo Clinic.
The medical facts in the Knowledge Bar include information such as typical symptoms and treatments, how common the condition is, whether or not it’s contagious, and even high-quality illustrations from licensed medical professionals.
The intention of this Google and Mayo Clinic partnership was to provide more medically accurate information to users. It was meant to help them determine what basic questions they should be asking their doctor or searching on other websites for additional data.
It’s a good idea, however to distinguish Google’s goal of providing a more trustworthy path of information, from providing an actual diagnosis. While Google searches may help in understanding the possible causes and treatments for symptoms, they’re certainly not meant to serve as medical advice.
As always, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional whenever there’s a medical concern.
And now, thanks to this match made in cyber-medical heaven, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing we’ll have an even better idea of what to ask during that consultation.
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