Say Ahh, Google Testing Telemedicine ‘Helpout’ Service Connecting Doctors And Patients
We talked about the possibility of virtual doctor visits last spring, and discovered that it's a prospect most people seem to be in favor of. And who could blame them? The only thing worse than wasting away sitting in a doctor's office waiting anxiously for your name to be called is standing in line at the DMV anxiously waiting for your name to be called.
Thankfully, the future of virtual doctor visits is here, albeit with a slow rollout. Recently, Google launched a new feature in its search engine that utilizes Hangouts to connect people to a live doctor. In the example below, knee pain is searched for, and an option to connect to a doctor is revealed directly below the search.
During this limited trial, Google's handling the fees incurred, so if you're able to spot this option, you might as well give it a go. Chances are good that this option will only show itself to those in the US, and it's probably such a limited roll-out that even if you are in the US, you still won't see it. Still, I like the idea behind this, and do hope for it to ramp-up to the point where it becomes common.
Doctors stand to gain from this mechanic as well. It could be that a doctor wants to dedicate themselves to being online-only, or a regular doctor might want to supplement their regular work with something that can be done any time. It's really hard to guess at what kind of costs something like this would involve, but given the virtually non-existent cost of calling or connecting to someone else online, we'd hope that the common man could afford it quite easily, even without coverage.