Google Search Your Pain for a Free Doctor Video Visit

google helpouts one medicalIn spite of Google’s rocky start into health care with the failed Google Health, this hasn’t stopped search giant from jumping back into the health market waters with both feet. It is taking on Apple HealthKit with the recent launch of its own Google Fit api for Android health apps. Now, Google is giving away free video doctor consultations.

Earlier this week someone discovered that Google’s search engine has a new health search feature which allows you to immediately video call a doctor that can answer your questions about the particular health issue searched. The new feature was first noted by Jason Houle of Massachusetts, who posted a screenshot (below) of it on Reddit.

Google  doctor video visitGoogle did confirm that it’s piloting this telehealth feature as well as footing the bill for all doctor video calls during this trial period. It has also enlisted the help of California-based Scripps and One Medical Group. The feature apparently uses Google Helpouts (video call interface based on Google Hangouts) for these medical video calls. While Helpouts is designed to make available the dispensing of advice and services of all kinds over video call, it does includes a HIPAA-compliant section for certified healthcare practitioners. Unfortunately, for those looking to get a free doctor consultation, the pilot is only running in Massachusetts and California.

When asked about the reason for the pilot, Google spokeswoman said, “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.”

While Google denies that it is becoming a health care company, it has an awful lot of health care projects under its wings to be a mere bystander. It just committed up to 750 million for Calico – its anti-aging venture and has recently partnered with 2 research groups to create a Cancer Genomics Cloud. And of course, everyone is wondering which mobile health platform Google Fit vs. Apple HealthKit will revolutionize the health space — or if they will at all.  Either way, it will be interesting to see what role Google decides to take in shaping the health care industry.

top photo courtesy: Venturebeat

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