Google to pilot telehealth services through ‘Hangouts’
(ED NOTE: At times, I felt myself somewhat daft pushing Hangout; but Google knew all along the potential power for Hangouts to Network, Communicate, and Educate. It will be interesting who Google “refers” to. But you can bet that the old-boy network of referrals will be impacted)
October 14, 2014
- Google’s next move into the healthcare market is a pilot program that will offer telehealth services to patients on its search engine. When looking for basic health information on certain conditions, an option for “talk with a doctor now” will be provided.
- Google is working with Scripps Health and One Medical Group on the venture, which will initially be free to users through Google Hangouts. The company has not yet revealed how long the pilot will last.
- Google’s other forays into healthcare include a smart contact lens that monitors the glucose levels of patients with diabetes; a project that tracks the vital signs of health patients to compare with sicker patients; and Calico, a startup company with the goal of developing products that fight the physical and mental declines associated with the aging process.
Telehealth may be a market ripe for expansion by a giant like Google. Deloitte recently estimated that 75 million electronic visits will occur in the United States in 2014.
Studies have shown that patients more likely to use telehealth are younger (between the ages of 18 and 44), who live farther away from healthcare providers and want the convenience of an online appointment. This should be Google’s sweet spot.
Other research has found that patients are typically satisfied with e-visits and they may be money-savers for the industry. Authors of a study out of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center estimated, using Medicare reimbursement data, that telehealth visits cost about $74, as opposed to $93 for an office visit.
Modern Healthcare: Google confirms telehealth pilot with Scripps Health, One Medical Group