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Are Google trying to bring telemedicine to the masses?

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Are Google trying to bring telemedicine to the masses?

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The Economist recently ran a piece whereby they explored the role of telemedicine in healthcare.  Telemedicine is the basic concept whereby medical advice is offered remotely, usually via a video link-up.  The concept has been around for some time now without ever really taking off.

At a recent industry event, a number of factors were outlined that are believed to be holding the concept back.  They include redesigning laws and payment systems set up for face-to-face care, and finding ways to keep patients’ data secure and private.

It will be interesting to see therefore, if a new project about to be launched by Google will overcome any of these obstacles.  They announced recently that they are testing a Hangout style facility whereby people can get help and advice from doctors remotely.  The trial period will be completely free, with Google themselves covering the costs involved.

Now, where things get kinda cool is that the service is modeled on the Helpout feature at Google, whereby the search engine detects your intentions from your query and if they believe your query was medical, they offer you the option to talk about it with a doctor.

Whilst Google haven’t officially announced anything, the new feature was quickly spotted by web users.  The information attached to the service is fairly spartan at the moment, and as it is only in a trial period it’s unlikely to appear in everyones search interface.  It is nevertheless a fascinating new offering from the search giant.

It’s fairly well known that the number of people searching for medical information online is on the increase, so this could be an opportunity to connect a clear demand, with a supply of reputable knowledge.  The interesting thing will be how Google manage some of the challenges outlined at the European Telemedicine Conference earlier this month.

Certainly an interesting move however, and one to keep an eye on.

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