Google test provides live chats with doctors

Posted at 3:31 PM, Oct 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-13 15:31:11-04

(CNN) — People using Google to search for information about their medical problems may soon get another source of information: a real-time chat with a doctor.

The search giant has confirmed to tech blog Engadget that it is testing a system that would offer video chats with doctors to people whose search terms involve medical symptoms.

Google told the site that the company is paying for the feature while it’s in the testing phase. But it’s likely that it would be a paid feature if it is rolled out to the public at large.

Google did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment for this story.

Doctors are famously frustrated by patients who search for symptoms online. While there are quality sites out there, such open-ended searches can convince people they’re sicker than they really are, and more dubious sites can offer sketchy advice about how to treat the symptoms.

For patients, a paid, online visit with a doctor could still be cheaper, and more convenient than an actual visit.

In an image on photo site Imgur, a screen capture presumably from someone testing the feature shows a video link with the words “Talk to a doctor now.”

The feature’s information box reads, “Based on your search query, we think you are trying to understand a medical condition. Here you can find health care providers who you can visit with over video chat. All visit costs are covered by Google during this limited trial.”

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