The web can be a precarious place to find accurate information regarding your health. With only a list of symptoms to type into a search engine, your mild headache could just be a headache…or the early stages of brain cancer. It’s always best to consult a doctor if you’re concerned and Google is trying to make it easier.
A small new addition was spotted in Google’s search engine when one redditor searched for “knee pain” on his Android smartphone. Tucked away under this medical inquiry was a small blue video icon with text saying “Talk with a doctor now.” Clicking on the nearby information icon only gives us a little bit more to work with. Google appears to be testing a method for users to connect with doctors when they appear to be searching for medical advice. It’s only a limited trial period, so this new feature won’t pop up on everyone’s account, but Google will cover all costs incurred during the trial.
We’ve reached out to Google for more details regarding the test, but Engadget has confirmed that the company will funnel these medical chat requests into “Helpouts-like” video sessions, which will most likely cost you. Helpouts debuted in November last year as a video-powered DIY community that connected people together to learn anything from playing guitar, cooking, getting fit, and really whatever you can think of. It’s uncertain if and how this incarnation works with Helpouts and exactly how costly it will be, but if you can get real and trustworthy results in just a matter a minutes, the cost, in both time and money, could be worth it.
Update: Speaking with a Google spokesperson, the company says:
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.
The feature is integrated with Helpouts and Google is testing whether this on-demand type of medical care would be beneficial for users.