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Forget WebMD, Google may let you video chat with a doctor while you search

google testing video chats with doctors header
Image used with permission by copyright holder
You know how it is. Feeling a little under the weather, you start Googling your symptoms to find out exactly what it is you’ve come down with. Before you know it, you’ve diagnosed yourself with a terminal illness, leaving you to wonder if you’ll make it to Christmas.

While jumping onto Google can of course be a useful way to gather more information on a particular ailment, some online searches can lead you the wrong way and leave you feeling more worried than when you started.

Aware that so many people use its search engine in an effort to identify a health condition, Google is currently testing a video-based service that puts you in touch with a doctor, Engadget reported over the weekend.

The service would apparently operate through Google Helpouts, the Mountain View company’s online platform that connects users to experts across a range of fields.

While we haven’t heard a great deal about the platform since it launched last year, it was revealed just a couple of days ago that the Web giant is apparently gearing up to push Helpouts to a wider audience by integrating its range of services with regular search results.

google-web-doc
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Google confirmed to Engadget that it is indeed working on a doctor-supported video service for Web users in need of expert medical advice.

A search card (shown right) obtained by the site reveals a message that reads: “Talk with a doctor now.,” with a little video camera icon beside it. The card, which will appear when Google detects you’re performing a symptom-related search,  shows another message suggesting that Google will pick up the tab for the online consultations, though it seems this will only be during the trial period.

All we really know for sure at the moment is that the feature is currently in a test phase. If a video service featuring trained physicians turns out to be a useful tool for helping worried Web users reach a more accurate diagnosis, Google will make it a permanent addition.

While the popularity of any such service will largely depend on how much Google charges for it, it could turn out to a great tool for those looking for quick and sound advice regarding a medical condition causing concern.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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