By Samuel Gibbs – The Guardian.
A trial with Google Hangouts is targeting people searching for symptoms, offering them a video call with a doctor for a potential diagnosis
Google is testing a new search feature that allows users to video call a doctor directly from search results for illnesses or symptoms.
The search results prompt users to “talk with a doctor now”, which will initiate a free video call similar to Google’s Helpouts support service but with a doctor to talk through symptoms for a remote diagnosis or advice.
The trial was first spotted by the web developer Jason Houle, who lives in Springfield, Massachusetts and works for Walt Disney World, when searching for knee pain. He posted a screenshot of the trial from his smartphone on Reddit.
“Based on your search query, we think you are trying to understand a medical condition,” Google says in the advice box accompanying the ability to video call a doctor. ”Here you can find health care providers who you can visit with over video chat.”
Google said that all video calls to doctors made during the trial, which is limited to California and Massachusetts, will be free to users and covered by Google. In the US most visits to doctors must be paid for, primarily by health insurance.
“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,” a Google spokeswoman told the Guardian…read more.