Googling for a diagnosis—use of Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based study

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 30 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1143

google's experimental co-op beta health searches

I work as an Emergency Physician at three hospitals, and have used google ("googled") for over five years. I prefer it as an online source of medical information. It is quick, everyone knows it, and speed is crucial in my work. I almost never google to establish a diagnosis, but it assists me in locating information regarding many aspects of my practice. Now that google is experimenting with specialty searches, I would like to quickly access google's health specialty co-op beta search engine, which allow users to narrow down searches based on such criteria as treatment, symptoms, tests, complications, prognosis, etc. There is currently no explicit nesting.

This google co-op beta version is just beginning and potentially may be quite useful. Quick access to it might help practitioners or patients, but it is unwieldy to type in a long address such as: (which was provided by one of the previous correspondents.) This numerical type of web address is impractical to use, and furthermore, it does not link to google's health co-op beta search engine.

For this reason I have prepared a web site which does nothing but link directly to google's new health co-op beta search engine. This web site is now active: the user need only type in " " (or click on the searchmed links in this text). Typing your search terms directly into the "SearchMedicum" google custom search box will take you directly to your results, using the google health specialty co-op beta engine. You can further refine the search by clicking on the options available (prognosis, treatment, etc.).

I will attempt to keep this link active, even if google changes its engine's URL. This allows me - and any other practitioner so inclined - to easily access this new tool.

The web site with its link, already functional, is:

I have picked the names "" and "SearchMedicum" because they are easy to remember and use. A "" link will also be created soon.


Lance Montauk

Competing interests: My son has worked for google for 18 months and my daughter has worked there for 4 months.

Competing interests: No competing interests

05 December 2006
Lance Montauk
Assistant Clinical Professor
UCSF, San Francisco, California 94143