Oh No! Where Did Medical Schema Go?

May 16th, 2016 by Devin Olsen

Schema 3.0 Explained

While working on implementing some schema markup for a medical clinic last week, I went to schema.org to see my available property choices, but when I went to the same page I’ve visited a hundred times before, https://schema.org/MedicalClinic, instead of the list of properties and their definitions I was expecting, I got this perplexing message:

Medical Schema Change

After doing a little poking around on schema.org, I noticed their release notes mentioned the implementation of a new version of schema, Schema 3.0.

What does that mean for those of us who use schema on our websites? Well, not too much for most industries. Some new schema properties have been added here and there. You can see the release notes for a full list of schema updates. However, if you manage a medical industry website, then you should be aware of a fairly significant change. Schema has re-organized their site and created a new “extension” for Medical schemas. Medical schemas like “MedicalClinic,” “MedicalProcedure,” “Physician,” and even “Dentist” have been migrated to a new subdomain, https://health-lifesci.schema.org/. Most but not all pages on schema.org that used to contain properties available for medical schema types now show the same core vocabulary message. Some pages, like https://schema.org/Physician, still display their property types. ​There are new pages on the health-lifesci subdomain for medical schema types, so we can still mark up these schema types using the new URLs for these pages:

Currently, Google has not followed suit—their structured data testing tool has not been updated. If you replace https://www.schema.org/MedicalProcedure with https://health-lifesci.schema.org/MedicalProcedure, Google doesn’t throw up an error; it just completely ignores the schema. This update raises some pretty big questions. Will Google update their schema validation, and will the old schema URLs be deprecated and invalid?

Another variable that makes updating your schema iffy is the information on the new schema extension page, “The terms defined in this extension may be considered moderately stable, but some changes are still likely (including renaming and restructuring) through ongoing community collaboration.” I also think that this may indicate that the restructuring may not be limited to just these schema types, and schema.org may start creating more extensions for specific schemas, rather than including them in the core schema language.

Right now all we can do is watch and wait. So long as Google is only validating the old schema URLs, we recommend continuing to use those, but stay on the lookout for some big changes yet to come.

Edited on 5-16-2016 at 3:24 pm:

“As of this afternoon, Google has already made updates to their validation tool so the new health-lifesci extension will now validate. The old URL for these schema types continues to work as well and does not produce a warning or error. Hopefully this is a sign that those of us with medical schema already implemented on our sites will not have to update the schema to the new format any time soon. Kudos to Google for the swift update.” 

Feature image credit.