Dr Google

Change on cards for tech gi­ant

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - CATE BROUGHTON

A new Google prod­uct will steer Ki­wis to­wards ‘‘high-qual­ity’’ health in­for­ma­tion and help the med­i­cal community take back con­trol from fake or mis­lead­ing ad­vice, the Amer­i­can tech­nol­ogy gi­ant says.

‘‘Health cards’’ of­fer­ing in­for­ma­tion on 900 com­monly searched­for con­di­tions – in­clud­ing flu, asthma and di­a­betes – were rolled out in New Zealand this week.

One in 20 Google searches was health re­lated, said the com­pany’s health pro­gramme man­ager Iso­bel So­laqua. A va­ri­ety of in­for­ma­tion was avail­able on­line but not all of this data was backed up by solid med­i­cal ev­i­dence.

‘‘There are lots of rab­bit holes that users can go down in terms of find­ing not-good health in­for­ma­tion, get­ting led astray by web­sites that might ... not of­fer rig­or­ous med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion that their doc­tor would want them look­ing at.’’

So­laqua said Google’s health cards had been de­vel­oped over ‘‘years’’, with each con­di­tion be­ing re­viewed by at least 10 doc­tors.

‘‘We worked re­ally hard to en­sure the med­i­cal rigour so it would be in­for­ma­tion ... their doc­tor would feel fine about.’’

Health cards ap­pear at the top of a Google search, and cover the symp­toms, treat­ment, and preva­lence of each con­di­tion. They were ‘‘in­for­ma­tional only’’ and ‘‘ab­so­lutely’’ not de­signed to re­place ad­vice from a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional, So­laqua said.

‘‘I don’t think it’s an end so­lu­tion in and of it­self but I think it is a step for­ward in pro­vid­ing ac­cu­rate, clin­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.‘‘

Royal New Zealand Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers med­i­cal di­rec­tor Dr Richard Medli­cott said the clin­i­cally-based in­for­ma­tion pre­sented on the cards was pos­i­tive but Google’s ad­vice seemed a bit ‘‘light’’.

‘‘They may want to tease out some of the risks here and be a bit more clearcut in terms of warn­ing signs if pa­tients are go­ing to use this as a di­ag­no­sis.’’

The in­ter­net was a ‘‘fan­tas­tic wealth of in­for­ma­tion’’ but most peo­ple re­alised they would need to see a GP for a di­ag­no­sis, he said.

Google’s health cards, which of­fer ad­vice on 900 med­i­cal con­di­tions, are now avail­able in New Zealand.

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