Google Tests Doctor-Patient Video Chat Service

Google is testing a service in which some health-related searches result in the option of launching a live video chat with a medical professional. The test is powered by Google Helpouts, a feature launched late last year that puts people in touch with a range of experts via online video.

News of the test emerged when Reddit user Jason Houle last Friday posted a screenshot of the results he got when he did a Google search for "knee pain." The image shows a video camera icon next to the message, "Talk with a doctor now."

Upon clicking an icon to the right of that image for more information, Houle saw a pop-up message that said: "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. All visit costs are covered by Google during this limited trial."

'See If It's Useful'

We reached out to Google to learn more about the trial video healthcare service.

"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," a Google spokesperson said. "We're trying this new feature to see if it's useful to people."

Google is offering the video chat service to a limited number of users who search for specific health complaints that include the common cold and pink eye. It is reportedly working with several partners -- Scripps and One Medical among them -- that are providing doctors with verified credentials to participate in in the trial.

The video chat service is being tested only in California and Massachusetts, according to a report in The Guardian. Google did not say how long the trial is expected to...

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