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Searching For Symptoms? Google Tests Free Video Chat With Doctors

To boost Google Helpouts, the company is embedding its video chat-based marketplace into search results.

Searching For Symptoms? Google Tests Free Video Chat With Doctors
[Photo: Flickr user Joseph Nicolia]
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Google is running a trial to extend Helpouts, a marketplace that lets people share and sell their expertise over video chat, to its search results. The test applies specifically to the medical segment of Helpouts: When Google users search for certain symptoms, such as pink eye or the common cold, some of them will now see a prompt to talk to a medical professional, with the search giant covering the fee for a limited time.

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“When you’re searching for basic health information–from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning–our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available,” a Google spokesman told Fast Company. “We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people.”

Reddit user jasonahoule spotted the feature when searching for knee pain on his Android device and uploaded the screenshot (right) on Friday. Within its contextual search card, Google includes a link to launch a video consultation directly from the results.

The representative declined to give more details about the test and did not say how long Google plans to run this trial. Since its launch last November, Google Helpouts has struggled to break into the mainstream. The pilot doesn’t change anything about the service, but it certainly gives the marketplace–Google’s attempt at on-demand health care–a lot more visibility by embedding it within the company’s most front-facing product.

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About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal

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