Ever Google “stomachache” and get scared into thinking you had appendicitis? Couldn’t decide whether that rash was skin cancer or contact dermatitis? Well pretty soon, you’ll be able to scroll past the witchdoctor websites and get the expert diagnosis you need from an online doctor’s visit.
Through their “Helpouts” product, Google is currently running a pilot program that uses search terms to connect would-be patients with doctors via video conference. According to the New York Times, they’ve partnered with Scripps and One Medical, groups that are “making their doctors available and have verified their credentials.”
An accurate diagnosis isn’t the only potential benefit, either. For those who look to the private sector to rebalance American healthcare costs, Engadget.com is speculating that internet-appointments could help bring down the cost of seeing a doctor.
Jonothan Linkous, chief executive of the American Telemedicine Association points out that “between 800,000 and one million consultations will be done over the Internet directly to consumers in the United States” this year. So it’s no surprise that the tech behemoth is looking to carve out a piece of the healthcare pie.
Google isn’t the only tech giant looking to elbow into the U.S.’s $3 trillion healthcare industry. Apple’s new HealthKit records a user’s vitals and physical activity for synching with third-party health and fitness apps. And, similar to Google, Wal-mart is testing Kaiser Permanente Care Corners, a telemedicine clinic where eligible members can walk in without an appointment to confer with a doctor.
So keep your slippers and bathrobe on next time you’re home sick — and keep your laptop close by, too.