Google, MD

Medicine and medical information has come a long way in the past few decades. If you felt you had a symptom, you either called a doctor, or even 911. You’d maybe make a doctor’s appointment or even check yourself in the emergency room.? Now you can look it up online. Google is taking notice.

Google is now working on a Helpouts-style feature where people can chat with doctors online about their symptoms. In these chatrooms and through video chats, people can learn about their symptoms, and maybe even get a proper diagnosis. For example, say that you have back pain. Under this system, you would type in back pain. You could click talk to a doctor now, where you can chat with a doctor online about your symptoms. Below that, there are other illnesses and conditions the patient might have. During the trial phase, Google will cover the cost of these chats. It’s not known how long this trial period will last, or even if this helpout-style feature will even get off the ground at all. But I can imagine this service won’t be free for long. Then comes the debate of how and who will pay for it. Will this be out of the patient’s pocket or can insurance take care of it? At least it would be cheaper and easier than going to a local doctor or emergency room.

But even today, well, especially today, you can feel sick, look up a symptom and still get a bad diagnosis. This can be true even if you look at a respectable medical website. Don’t even get me started on these fly-by-night whack job websites. So maybe getting a real doctor to talk to is a good thing. In order for this Google experiment to work, you need to check, double check and triple check these doctors’ credentials as well as their personal character. If they don’t, they will be no better than the questionable websites. What do you think of this Google, MD experiment?


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