With one in twenty searches health related, Google has successfully installed a search engine for healthcare information in the US, and is now planning to initiate a similar operation in India. The idea behind launching this healthcare initiative in a big way being to help users gain greater access to information — although with an alert cautioning “search results are not intended as medical advice.”
In the US the company’s operation is already underway, providing instant information in response to symptoms and concerns via its search engine to those seeking it..
In India, Google will serve clients visiting its search engine and search application for IOS and Android with health condition data for more than 400 medical conditions, both in English and Hindi.
A client feed on a health condition will pop up information cards with typical symptoms, giving details on how common the condition is, whether critical or contagious, ages it affects etc. The cards would include images that could be converted into the PDF format and passed onto others requiring them’ be they family or friends. A lighter version of the card would also be made available keeping poor net connectivity in the country in mind.
According to TC, Google’s healthcare initiative comes in the face of the growing healthcare startups working towards standardizing healthcare in India; a country proclaiming 97 percent of its population having no access to basic surgical coverage. The paucity of information on the health front is reflected in the success rate of Practo and Lybrate who have pulled up investments worth $ 90 million and $10 million respectively.
For its US venture Google had collaborated with Mayo clinic to fact check its answers; in India the company has streamlined its efforts with Apollo and Asia Hospitals on content and approached a clinic in Ballabhgarh to gain better understanding on how grass root healthcare professionals could be served.
Though Google India’s health information may not go as far as other health start ups provisions, the fact remains that its visibility makes its smallest move provide better access to health information and generate awareness towards health.
According to Google’s Prem Ramaswami, “Health is a really important need for Indians and people, globally. This is a very difficult space to navigate for consumers online, they have issues with trust and vocabulary. We wanted to create something simple and straight forward that gives this framework from which you can dive deeper to get more information.”
Beyond just helping consumers access information, the Google feature is designed to give healthcare professionals more data on the go.” It could also back up their case when convincing more skeptical patients to visit a doctor.” Added Ramaswami.