Waves were made last month — and big waves at that — when rumblings first surfaced that Google has healthcare on its mind.
As first reported by Re/Code, Google is getting its feet wet in the telemedicine space. The company is running a trial within its Helpouts service offering users a chance to discuss medical issues with live doctors via online video.
Google’s Helpouts service already offers live video guidance from experts on topics like parenting, photography, fitness, and more.
As a series of startups explore the new ways mobile apps allow people to consult with their doctors, venture capital is flowing into the telemedicine space. Some charge by the visit, others a monthly fee.
Though there are advantages to getting counseling on demand an in the comfort of one’s own home, there are limits to what doctors can do when unable to diagnose a patient in person- including restrictions on tests and prescription drugs.
“It’s unclear what level of service physicians participating in Google’s program are providing, what sort of business model undergirds it and how Google will deal with any medical liability issues that could arise,” Re/Code reported last month.
Chances are, however, that if Google gets into telemedicine to any serious degree, the service offering would likely be significant and a major move forward for telemedicine.
Already, 2015 looks poised to become a banner year for telemedicine.
“Telemedicine used to be the thing of science fiction, but thanks to digital media, today it’s a fact of life,” says Daniel Gilbert, president and CEO of CloudVisit Telemedicine.“We believe 2015 will be the year that government flattens the obstacles to country wide access for patients: lack of sufficient broadband in rural areas; Medicare’s outmoded rules prohibiting the majority of reimbursements; and, divisive politics that get in the way of bipartisanship.