Google Testing Search-Based Telehealth Program for Consumers

October 14, 2014 in News

Google has partnered with several providers to test a program that allows consumers to video chat with a physician, the Washington Post‘s “The Switch” reports (Tsukayama, “The Switch,” Washington Post, 10/13).

Program Details

For the program, Google has partnered with several providers and start-ups, including:

The pilot program is being hosted on Google’s Helpouts platform, which allows users to have live video chats with experts about a variety of topics, and is currently available to users at no-cost (McCann, Health IT News, 10/13).

Under the program, consumers who use Google’s search engine to look up information on a particular symptom will be able to select an option to “talk with a doctor now” (Modern Healthcare, 10/13).

However, not every medical search will result in a video chat option, according to “The Switch.” In addition, some consumers could be asked to schedule a chat rather than immediately talk with a physician (“The Switch,” Washington Post, 10/13).

According to VentureBeat, the pilot program is HIPPA-compliant (Novet, VentureBeat, 10/12).

A Google spokesperson said that the company’s goal is to provide people who are “searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning” — with “the most helpful information available” (“The Switch,” Washington Post, 10/13).

The spokesperson declined to specify a timeframe for the pilot program or comment on any licensing issues (Modern Healthcare, 10/13).

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