Google’s Search and Maps will display virtual care options more visibly

Google's Search and Maps will display virtual care options more visibly

Google has announced through its official blog that it will be making virtual healthcare options more prominent in Search and Maps. 

According to the tech giant, it will be rolling out the changes to Search and Maps in the next couple of weeks. 

In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, it is not surprising that many healthcare providers today are minimizing in-person visits. But a lot of folks (not necessarily those sick with COVID-19) should still have access to medical care even while they’re staying at home.

Virtual healthcare and telehealth services are trending

As Google has noted, more and more people are searching for virtual care and telehealth options on the Internet in the last few weeks. 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen interest in virtual care and telehealth rise dramatically,” said Google in its blog post. They added:

“Health consultations over the phone or by video conference not only help alleviate strain on doctors’ offices and emergency rooms but are also recommended as an important way to protect patients and staff against COVID-19.”

Online doctor's appointment

Making sure people access the right information

Since this is Google we are talking about, it is never just as simple as highlighting any virtual healthcare or telehealth option found on the information superhighway.

The search giant is taking extra steps to make sure that the options it displays prominently on Search and Maps are the most accurate and most relevant. 

Per Google:

“To help individuals and health care providers connect, we’re focused on providing individuals with access to high-quality and authoritative information and supporting them throughout their health journey.”

Medical professionals can go virtual

Google further explained that healthcare providers can now add a virtual care service in their Business Profile. 

Whenever patients within the same locale as these providers google virtual care offerings, they will be able to see a “get online care” link on Search and Maps. 

The link should lead directly to the provider’s official website, from which patients can get more information, and even set a virtual healthcare visit appointment.

For U.S.-based searches, Google will also begin highlighting virtual care platforms, especially when users type keywords like “immediate care.” The results generated from the search will now show both in-person visits and virtual care options as well.

As for those users who don’t have insurance, they will also be offered information regarding out-of-pocket costs for virtual care services.

Google virtual care options search maps

The last few weeks have seen Google initiate efforts to help fight against COVID-19. Just this week, the company worked with Intel in putting in US$56 million [AU$88.2 million] to combat the pandemic. 

Then last month, it put a dedicated COVID-19 section on YouTube’s homepage in order to boost coronavirus awareness. 

More recently, Google joined forces with Apple in developing a contact tracing technology that would work seamlessly between Android and iOS mobile devices.

Images courtesy of Google and Unsplash 

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