Dr. Google - Has Google Taken Self-Diagnosis a Step Too Far?


If you’ve ever visited Dr. Google you’ll remember the day you discovered your imminent mortality. In reality, you were most likely fine…but Googling anything health related has a unique way of making even the most mild of symptoms look like a terminal illness.

With one in every 20 google searches being health-related, the search engine giant is now attempting to cut out the middle-man and will be directly displaying medical information via a new feature called ‘Health Cards.’

When searching conditions or symptoms, Google will now begin to show a window on the side of the screen, outlining the diagnosis (ironically, often listed as ‘self-diagnosable’ according to Google), and also includes Google’s suggested treatment.

A word of advice is to remember that the information provided on these health cards, remains just one source of information - mostly taken from a medical website called Mayo Clinic - and does not substitute for face-to-face advice from a health professional such as a chiropractor. 

The information provided by Google has been criticised as being too simplistic and encourages a cookie-cutter approach to self-diagnosis. So far, the feature fails to recognise that every individual has individual needs and can present incredibly differently requiring a variety of different treatments.

There is also skepticism that these Health Cards may be sponsored or influenced by pharmaceutical companies in the future. While Google currently claims to be independently funding the feature, at the end of the day Google is just another business, therefore it is reasonable to presume that the motivation for any project is commercial.

However, there are added benefits to the new feature, with less people expected to end up on the old message boards and forums where dangerous advice is given out by unknowing, anonymous individuals. Hopefully we’ll see less cases of ‘Cyberchondria’ too, but you’ll have to Google that one to know what we mean :)