When a user enters a medical query in the Google search engine an advice box pops up with the ability to call a doctor saying “Based on your search query, we think you are trying to understand a medical condition. Here you can find health care providers who you can visit with over video chat.”
The trial is currently limited to California and Massachusetts in the US with all costs covered by Google.
“When you’re searching for basic health information – from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning – our goal is to provide you with the most helpful information available. We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people,” said a Google spokeswoman in a statement.
Google Helpouts became compliant with the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which governs patient data confidentiality, and offered video chats with doctors for those with health insurance from One Medical Group last year. Patients could request a consultation and video chat with a doctor within 20 minutes.
The move to a trial within standard search results shows Google’s continued interest in entering the healthcare arena. A Google telemedicine service would reach the billions of people who use the search engine every day.
The official launch of Google’s telemedicine platform is still unknown, but in the meantime Google Helpouts has a health section that allows users to schedule a video chat sessions with doctors ahead of time.