Google’s new health app: the start of en-masse hypochondria?
Google has announced plans to launch an information package on general health and medical illnesses in a new app.
According to the tech giant, the app merges information on symptoms and treatments and medical imagery from licensed medical illustrators, which is then reviewed by the company’s own Dr Kapil Parakh, as well as experts at the Mayo Clinic research centre to assess accuracy and contribute their own clinical knowledge.
Set to detail over 400 medical conditions including diabetes, celiac disease and measles, the converged information appears to offer little other than a simpler interface and more direct access over the traditional online Google search.
In fact, the project seems to have very little warrant or merit, other than giving users what they apparently want: one in 20 searches on Google is an attempt to find health-related information, the company wrote in its unveiling blog post.
So the app will essentially offer a Wikipedia page in an easily digestible format, with some added diagrams? Google say otherwise.
“We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is – whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more,” wrote Google product manager Prem Ramaswami.
In this regard, the app sounds like it might be favoured by new parents or those needing medical information in a moment of crisis, however Google have warned that the app should not be used as a replacement for credible medical advice from their doctor.
Ramaswami goes on to say: “What we present is intended for informational purposes only – and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern.”
As an information-based health app, with a slightly fresher perspective from doctors collaborating on the project, and Google still urging patients to attend their own physicians, it is hard to see this app breaking the mould or inducing any hypochondria-hysteria that isn’t already rampant.
With the app not trying to be the definitive Dr Google, and appearing to have no real purpose other than being a product Google felt obliged to offer, it simply becomes another platform to research diseases, contributing little else than an amalgamated page of medical information easily accessible on a variety of platforms and outlets already, including WebMD.
But most importantly what Google really presents is an app intended to enter the market before Apple or Samsung, one which really isn’t needed at all, considering most folk simply “Google it” upon developing symptoms or when querying an illness.
So download the colourful icon if you wish, it won’t tell you anything new and may only serve to prevent repetitive strain injury as you tap less than in the Google search bar, but undoubtedly it will just take up a block of space on your home screen before it slips away into the ether.