Google Maps…Now where will you go for that surgery?

Sometimes Google Universal Map results return unexpected answers. This search for “surgery wellsboro” is a recent example. I am not sure which is more worrisome, answer one or answer two.

As Charles & Justin pointed out, the reviews are quite strange for the McDonald’s. I’ll have a Big Mac with my operation, please:

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Google Maps...Now where will you go for that surgery? by

13 thoughts on “Google Maps…Now where will you go for that surgery?”

  1. Talk about a loose association. It looks like that McDonald’s listing was somehow conflated with a Dr. Lester McDonald (in the citations and the category is also “physician”) and the Psychiatric Care Unit was fed data from Superpages that said, “General medical and surgical”. Either way, it’s strange stuff.

    Just yesterday I was commenting about how rarely I’ve seen these cases. For instance, I’m involved in a conflation issue with 2 bankruptcy attorneys operating off of the same floor of the same building with no distinguishing suite numbers. That type of situation has been the more common conflation cause that I’ve seen. But, perhaps it’s more common than I thought. Certainly this Wellsboro Surgery case has far looser association than the shared address/suite issue.

    Is it possible that Google opens up the data funnel wider when filling map listings in less populated regions? Or, if the data set is very limited, could Google just be picking up very loosely associated listing data such as the word “surgical” from a description from Superpages? That doesn’t explain the category issue though. Wellsboro has just over 3000 people there. Have you seen these cases in heavy concentrations of population?

    Thank you for sharing this case!

  2. @Charles

    Conflation is an artifact of Google clustering & merge/purge technology. It can happen when there is close physical proximity, too long of a business name (more things to get confused), geo-confusion etc. It likely to occur between folks in the same industry much more so than not due to the language analysis that is one of the stronger merge signals.

    It is going to happen in some % of listings. Google has managed over the past 12 months to improve the process but it is still occurring.

  3. OK chuckles aside, on the place page for result #1 the confusion continues. Details and reviews from various places that don’t match, if you click on more details on the place page there are actually 2 doctor profiles available and neither is Dr. Mc Donald’s. In the reviews one is for a doctor Mc Donald but there are 2 more for a Dr. Wilson! Clearly someone needs to claim a listing or two and start to straighten this one out! Easy sell for someone!

  4. @Charles

    It is hard to “know” that there are improvements. Certainly conflations are still occurring and we are seeing fewer complaints…but only Google really knows whether the index quality is actually moving in the right direction as it relates to this problem and overall.

  5. My best guess is that the authority of the children’s hospital is just so high in the community that anything remotely medical gets tack onto it, whether they like it or not.

  6. Frankly, what I’m disturbed about here is that someone out there finds McDonald’s intoxicating and succulent. Somehow, all of the problems of Google Maps fade into the background when I confront this.

  7. I recently had to put Google Maps and other directories to real-world use in finding a surgeon, rapidly (when a tooth filling went sour, expanding into an infection that began to inflate my face and neck while I was attending/speaking at the SMX West conference in California two weeks ago).

    One discovers that online search for surgeons is not all that great, anywhere. In fact, for any medical practice that primarily only takes referrals directly from other doctors, online search is highly deficient. Many of these doctors barely have a website presence, and those who do often have minimalistic ones which contain relatively few keywords.

    Google’s desire to make business ratings available complicates things as well. One can sometimes find a doctor, but the doc’s Place page isn’t tied to the clinic where they work. Many of the ratings are miserably vague and useless and too few.

    Maybe it helps to know if a doctor is abrupt, rude or keeps you waiting a long while before seeing you, but these factors seem to be given overmuch weighting, IMHO. If a doc is dealing with an emergency, is in the middle of a procedure that took longer, or has a patient that required more time than expected, it can result in a longer wait. Why don’t people get this? A really good doctor might be inundated with patients and emergencies and have this going on more than others — while doctors less trusted might be really speedy at seeing you because their books are clear of work…

    I’d rather see things like success rates at diagnosing and treating sickness. I also care less about brusque docs if they’re brilliant — does anyone ever watch “House”?

    I do like how user ratings are lifting the veil on the medical practice a bit more, however. Heretofore, how could you know if others had bad experiences with a doctor? And, doctors should be made aware that there are consequences for providing poor customer experiences — perhaps we’re entering an age where everything won’t be hushed up quite as much.

    More than all this, it’d be nice if doctors provided better websites with more text content for search. I want to know their education and background experience. I want to know their philosophies about treatment. I want to know what they specialize in, and what things they prefer to treat. For instance, endocrinologists are deucedly hard to find — some of these doctors merely say on their sites that they’re endocrinologists, but you later figure out that they’re specialized in fertility treatment, or resisting aging, or diabetes, or weight reduction, or skin conditions. Do they accept walkins or referrals-only? Where do they have hospital privileges, and what sorts of things to they do to stay current? Very clearly list what formal certifications they have, etc.

  8. @Chris

    Sheesh…and I was just worried about Google getting the dang phone number right for emergency services…we have a long way to go…that’s for sure!

    1. @David

      They are changing it every day that’s for sure. The question is: Is the quality improving? It is very difficult to tell…as we don’t have the 10,000 foot view of the accuracy of the data….and there sure is a ways to go..

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