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Google Helpouts Tested in Google Search Results – Dr. Google?

Posted on October 13, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It was first noticed by someone on Reddit and then confirmed by Engadget that Google has been testing a Google Helpout style feature which offers a telemedicine video visit with a doctor. You can see an image of the test Google search telemedicine integration below:
Google Helpout - Google Search Integration

This is a really interesting integration for a number of reasons. First, Google wasn’t charging for these initial test visits, but would no doubt charge for these visits in the future. Second, it takes an Act of God to get Google to integrate something into their cash cow: search results. That should tell us how serious Google is about doing these types of integrations.

I can already hear the naysayers who think this is a terrible idea. They might be right as a business. We’ll have to see how that plays out. The reimbursement model could a challenging one. Plus, there are plenty of reasons why this won’t work. Google will have to get really good at knowing when to offer a visit and when not to offer a visit. We’ll see if they want to make the investment required to understand when the visit is something that should be encouraged and when it shouldn’t be encouraged.

One thing I’ve observed with Telemedicine is that it can really work well…if you have the right situation. The reason Telemedicine has gotten a bad rap is that the naysayers have plenty of ammo they can use to explain why Telemedicine could be a terrible thing. These naysayers are correct. There are a bunch of healthcare situations where a telemedicine visit just isn’t going to work. However, just because something doesn’t solve 100% of the situations doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used for the 30% of the time (I think it could be more than this) that it’s a beautifully elegant solution that’s just as effective as an in office visit?

As noted, this was just at trial by Google. Google is well known for trying things to see how they do and then scraping them after the trial. So, we’ll see how this goes. It does seem that Google can’t keep its hands out of healthcare. I think they see the trillion dollar industry and just can’t resist.

Face-to-Face in Medicine

Posted on July 29, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.


What a great tweet and insight into healthcare. Indeed, most people really underestimate what can be done face-to-face in healthcare. I first realized the value of this when a doctor visited my blog and described to me all of the things a doctor was observing in a face to face office visit. Everything from the way someone breathes, to the way someone sits, to the way someone coughs. It’s amazing how much data is available from just visually seeing the patient.

I agree that face-to-face is the best way to treat a patient. However, can an online video visit accomplish almost all of the upside of face-to-face interactions while minimizing any downsides? I think this is the challenge of telemedicine and something we’re making great strides in accomplishing. Of course it will never be as good as face-to-face, but I think it can get very close.

The other reason I’m a huge fan of the e-visit is that there’s a large percentage of visits where there’s no need for the visual part of the visit. Doctors know that much of the physical part of a patient visit is often just theatrics for the patient. The only reason we’re not doing more e-visits today is that doctors don’t get paid if they do e-visits. If they got paid they’d do many more with the same quality of care.

As we get more and more health sensors constantly tracking our health, we’ll need even less physical interaction to be seen by a doctor. For example, if I’ve been tracking my blood pressure twice a day at home, then is there a need for a patient to go into the doctor to get another blood pressure reading?

We’re just at the very beginning of these health sensors. The next generation doctor will be as good at understanding vast amounts of self generated health data as they are at understanding physical queues. The physical will never leave us completely, but what a doctor will be able to treat virtually will grow exponentially. The face-to-face interaction will just likely be by video instead of in an exam room.