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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Medical Knowledge Graph- What This Change Means To A Healthcare Marketer!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Recently, Google has brought a major overhaul of its semantic search updated with health information. Google’s knowledge graph, a system that the giant search engine launched in May 2012 can now provide a fact-checked information about any disease you search for at a glance. It is quick, easier and more visually appeal. Not only this, Google also provides ‘a Download PDF’ link so you can easily download and print without visiting a website. Google may possibly display more “assets” in Knowledge Graph as it moves further by adding more entities and context.   

I have searched “diabetes type 2” on Google, and I was amazed at the semantic display of results in the form of Knowledge Graph.

So, what prompted Google to apply semantic display of disease information in Knowledge graph? 

According to Google, 1 in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. Google in one of the blogs says – 
We’re making sure to include Leishmaniasis of neglected tropical diseases, a set of infections that affect over 1.5 billion people including 500 million children in poorer regions. We think it’s important for people to have facts on these diseases, such as Dengue Fever (already included), Chikungunya, and Leishmaniasis (to be added soon).” 

When it comes to health related information, “trust” is one of the most important factors. Let me cite my personal experience to add more context here.  A few years back, I saw rashes on my fingers. Someone superficially examined and told me it looked like “Scabies”. To my ignorance, I did not know anything about the disease. So, I turned to Google to research more about it. Literally, I was horrified with the kind of terrible information topped the search results. I was confused and a bit scary too. The next immediate step was to visit a dermatologist for counselling. He categorically asked me not to Google, because he did not see all fact-checked search results. 




But those days are history now. Today, the semantic display of medical information on search results will certainly win the hearts of HCPs and patients alike, who did not believe Google until a few days back. A post published on ‘Time.com” -Here’s What 6 Doctors Really Think of Dr. Googlechecks physicians’ response on Google’s medical knowledge graph.

Mayo Clinic, ScienceDirect, Medscape, Nature, WebMD, Government agencies (eg: NIH, FDA, CDC) and a team of exceptionally skilled physicians and HCPs help Google curate and validate the much needed information at your fingertips. The current list of verified sources is limited today from where Google takes the information. However, as the Knowledge Graph in health-related search results becomes more prominent, the search engine will likely expand the sources over time for inclusion in this coveted search.    

What this change means to a healthcare marketer?

It’s too early to assess the short-term and long-term impact of this update on health-related paid and organic search; nevertheless there are a few initial observations that can be considered. At time when a big chunk of medical content is afloat digitally, this update may pose a threat to “cheap” content factory. The new format of medical search result (Knowledge Graph) about diseases is an early signal of a deeper change that has profound implications on publishers.  

By connecting verified information to the real world entities, the search engine is able to create a much richer set of results for its users. This will certainly bring in drastic change the way we produce and market health related content and design products. 

With the change like this, a more pragmatic approach, however, would be to explore how our existing and future healthcare digital products can be adapted and marketed to keep up with this changing landscape of semantic search.   

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