On 1st of February, the global search engine giant Google released ‘Dr Google’ in Australia. Ironically, just one month later, the dominant search engine in China Baidu, announced to shut down the ‘Baidu Doctor’ after two and a half year.
Since the internet is widely available around the world, it seems we can do anything online. From chatting, reading to dating and shopping. People constant to explore the limit of the internet. Not sure who is the first one to start searching disease symptoms by using the internet, but I bet the first thing most people will do nowadays if they feel sick is asking Google instead of going to the GP, whilst for Chinese, obviously, they will go for Baidu.
I guess there is one practical reason involved, for example, though NHS in the UK is for free, people still needs to book the appointment for the GP first, if you need further check in the hospital, you also need to call them to arrange another time. Basically, there is no way you can do everything in one day. Though you might feel you are going to died, as soon as you are conscious, you might still not been acceptable in A&E. If there is no one around you is a doctor, the only one who can help you might be Google.
Indeed, Google helps people a lot regarding information sharing. No more than a second, there will be thousands or millions of results. Most of the time, the answer will be helpful. However, can Google really able to diagnose patients? I bet the answer is definitely ‘no’ as all the results online are actual people’s posts related to the keywords you just typed. Are those answers can be trusted? The answer is really ‘depends’.
Personally, I benefit from ‘Google doctors’ once, as I am not able to book any appointment on the day and I have been told that I have to call back the next day before 7:15 am or I need to wait until next week. However, my problem was just an acne in the ear canal. Whereas, if things become seriously, I do not think Google will replace the doctors, as everyone knows, even though the same symptoms and conditions might cause by different reasons.
Nevertheless, ‘Dr Google’ now is available in Australia. Accordingly, health cards which are verified information for 900 common health complaints are provided, except medical advice. However, that is what Baidu already did years ago, and decide to terminate recently.
Baidu started to run ‘Baidu Doctor’ since October 2014, at the first, the platform is for people to book an appointment, comment the service, initially to improve the relationship between doctors and patients. Then come the quick consultation and expert advisory services. Though it becomes more easy for Chinese to book the doctors. The tension between doctors and patients seems worse than before. As the people who provide consultation and advice on ‘Baidu Doctor’ will not be the doctor that patient is going to meet. So there is always some divergence of the advice from actual doctors and ‘Baidu Doctor’. Patients then question the doctors, while doctors ask the patient to stop searching online.
That is the reason Baidu finally decide to shut down the service, though the company claimed that the reason to shut down the ‘Baidu Doctor’ is to move on to the artificial intelligence in the medical area, still the controversy of ‘Baidu Doctor’ cause a lot of attention in China.
But will ‘Dr Google’ survive and expand to the rest of the world? In my view, doctors will never be replaced by ‘Dr Google’, while the medical systems need to be updated.