Google has been striving to have a breakthrough in the medical field for a while now, and this is their latest venture.
According to Reddit user jasonahoule, when he Google searched for knee pain, Google automatically detected the query is related to a medical condition and offered a video chat service for him to speak directly to a health care provider. He was also probably surprised to know that the medical cost for his visit over the video chat would be covered by Google during the limited trial.
This trial program involves providing certain users who are searching for certain health symptoms with a video chat service whereby they can communicate with a health care provider with verified credentials. Although this trial is very limited and currently for users in California and Massachusetts only, with a good feedback, hopefully soon this service will be available for all.
While professionals can enrol to get patients from Google, patients can safely payout with Google Wallet, the money handling service from Google. If they are covered under medical insurance, they can claim reimbursement for the same.
A Google spokesperson confirmed this story when Huffington Post contacted them. “When you’re searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available. We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people,” Google told The Huffington Post.
This is not new, however, that Google is trying to connect professionals with the people seeking professional services. Although not much known in this hemisphere of the world, a service called Google Helpouts was launched last November and this trial is actually an extension of Google Helpouts. Only main difference? Google Helpouts is a paid service.
This move from Google is certainly in a good direction. Self-diagnosis is often done to save medical expenses, especially in countries where medical insurance is not a popular concept.
In fact, Pew Internet reports that 35% of the population in America, a country where medical insurance is compulsory, went online to self-diagnose and one third of those never went for a professional opinion. With self-diagnosis being such a risky practice seeing as information online may or may not be that accurate and reliable, this service is surely a step in the right direction.
Google did not specify how long the trial would last and what kind of information they are collected via the trial; however, it could be assumed that data collected might be used for the healthcare-focused technologies that Google is working on, such as glucose-reading contact lenses and Android-based fitness app Google Fit.