Google, like any big company hoping to change the world, is very serious about health, and it looks like they want to start doing more on their part to help people get medical advice whenever they require it. The company has apparently started to trial a feature within Google Search that will connect you to a health professional via video chat when looking up symptons.
Searching “knee pain,” for instance, would not only give you information about the condition and why it may be affecting you, but might also offer to connect you to a licensed physician who can give you some advice or give you some leg exercises to help alleviate the pain. The feature seems to be activated for a very limited amount of accounts right now so we’ve been unable to give it a spin for ourselves.
Although the Reddit user who originally reported this story didn’t confirm it, we imagine the video chat button will take you to Google Helpouts, Google’s up-and-coming service that connects users and professionals for those seeking some sort of help. Topics in Helpouts range between health and homework, computers and cooking, and anything else you might think of that someone could help you with that doesn’t require their physical presence.
For Health in particular, Google makes sure anyone providing assistance is qualified to do so by requiring them to verify their medical licenses and certifications. These folks won’t be able to prescribe medicine or give you any treatment, naturally, but they should be well-equipped to give you any non-urgent medical advice you seek. For all other situations you’ll obviously want to call your actual doctor or your local emergency services.
The trial seems to be available for US residents only at this time, and folks lucky enough to use it won’t be charged for the time they use to speak to a healthcare professional (though Google’s language indicates that the service will eventually cost if and when it makes its way out of trial). There doesn’t seem to be a way to check and see if you’re in this trial except for trying a search for a health condition and seeing if the video button pops up for you. Give it a whirl and let us know if you’re able to see it!