It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that I’m a Trekker — as in Star Trek’er.

For the uninitiated, “Trekkie” tend to apply to fans of the original series, while “Trekker” applies to fans of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the spin-offs it spawned. [I’m not sure if these terms still hold, however, now that the most recent movie “reimagines” Captain Kirk’s Enterprise, while the last series spin-off was actually the precursor to Captain Kirk.  But I digress…]

One of the reasons I loved the series were the gadgets and ideas the writers imagined for the future, many of which have come through (such as the cell phone). One such idea was introduced in Star Trek Voyager: the holographic physician. It used a huge medical database to diagnose and treat wounded and sick individuals.

We still don’t have a holographic doctor. But Google seems to have tried launching the next best thing.

Last month, Google announced that it will now offer possible diagnoses based on symptoms you search for on Google’s search engines. [For more information, check out http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/improving-health-searches-because-your.html]

For example, if you were to type in “chest pain right side” into Google, you’ll see possible diagnoses featured at the very top of the main column. In this case, they provide links to webpages regarding the following:

  • Heart attack
  • Stress
  • Angina
  • Pleurisy
  • Gallstone

Okay, maybe it was a slight exaggeration to hint that Google is now taking over physician duties. But they seem to have an avenue for that general direction.

Instead of using a tightly controlled medical database, however, it would rely on the web for information to form diagnoses. Putting it altogether is a robust algorithm.

After that the only thing missing would be a holographic doctor — with a personality.