Google has unveiled plans to offer health information to users in India it has been reported. The new service, which will be known as ‘health cards,’ will be rolled out across India following successful runs in the United States and Brazil.
It will be a card-like block of information which will feature at the top of search results. When symptoms or health concerns are entered into Google, the ‘health cards’ will appear. The feature will also be implemented in the iOS and Android Google search apps, and will display answers to 400 health conditions in both English and Hindi.
“Next time you ask Google about common health conditions, we’ll show you information cards with typical symptoms, as well as details on how common the condition is — whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more,” said Google in a statement.
The service is more than just a display. An illustration will come as part of the health card, alongside symptoms, possible treatments, and even demographic profiles of at-risk groups. All of this information can then be downloaded in the form of a PDF, and emailed to whomever.
According to Google, 1 in 20 internet searches is health-related. Google, already at the top of the search engine game, hopes to corner this segment too. Online symptom websites such as NHS Direct in the United Kingdom, and the ever-popular (and often derided) WebMD are go-to places. Google is determined to take their place.
Despite Google’s ubiquity, many in India still do not see it as an everyday tool for light inquiry. As in the early days of the internet, Google is assessed by many to be a specialist tool for conducting research. This is mainly due to the fact that hundreds of millions of Indians are not yet connected to the internet.
However, Google is not out to replace traditional health providers, and just sees the health cards as another step towards seeing a qualified health professional.
“We view this as a simple outline, a stepping stone, a framework from which an individual can learn about the health condition and have a more informed conversation with their doctor,” said Prem Ramawami, a senior product manager at Google.
“No way are we saying patients should ignore a doctor in case of a medical condition,” he continued.
The Indian health cards are a collaboration between the search giant and two Indian healthcare groups, Apollo Hospitals and Columbia Asia Hospitals. The project has already gone live.