Google has decided to make virtual health care options more visible on Google Search and Google Maps in an attempt to improve access to healthcare without having to visit a doctor’s chamber during the lockdown imposed to curb the Covid-19 spread.
Hospitals in every country had to solely focus on Covid-19 cases, neglecting treatment for other ailments. Moreover, people now have stopped visiting hospitals since they are afraid to catch the virus. In a such a situation, Google believes it is better to consult a doctor over the phone or through the internet. This will help in reducing the load on hospitals and healthcare workers and ensure there are less people outdoors.
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As a result of the move, you will now see options to locate a nearby healthcare center or clinic with contact information on Google Search and Google Maps. Hospitals, mental health experts and doctors who wish to virtually treat patients can opt for ‘virtual care offering’ in their Business Profile. Then, anyone searching for a virtual health care provider, will see a ‘get online care’ option on Search and Maps.
Addressing the issue, Google wrote, “When people search for immediate care, we’ll be able to also present available virtual care options and related information such as the out-of-pocket price charged for a visit (for those without insurance) and an easy way for people to directly connect with the virtual care platform.” It further added, “The visit between the patient and provider will take place on the healthcare provider’s platform of choice.” The search engine told a media outlet that it was conducting a pilot project in the US wherein people could begin to see links to virtual care offered by Amwell Medical Group, Doctor On Demand, and Anthem in search results instantly.
For now, the feature will only pilot in the United States and then roll out globally.