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Need to talk to a doctor? Google your symptoms and — poof! — one might appear


Googling health conditions can quickly take you down a rabbit hole of anxiety, but what would happen if a doctor popped up on the screen and could talk you through your questions and concerns?

That's the idea behind a new health service that Google is testing out. Taking their Helpouts medical sessions to the next level, Google is experimenting with a service that will automatically offer to connect users to doctors "when they appear to be searching for medical advice," according to Gizmodo.

"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," Google told Gizmodo. "We're trying this new feature to see if it's useful to people."

Web developer Jason Houle, of Springfield, Massachusetts, spotted the new function while searching for "knee pain," and posted the screen shot on Reddit.

The function is under trial at the moment, so the chat option will not pop up on all devices, according to Gizmodo. But some will find the blue icon that says, "Talk with a doctor now."

Google said that all video calls to doctors made during the trial, available in California and Massachusetts, will be free, but that could change with an official launch.

The feature would likely be paired with Google's Helpouts medical sessions, a video-chat platform that launched last year and allows users to proactively seek out and chat with doctors. Google's Helpouts medical sessions run through the so-called "disruptive primary care medical practice" One Medical Group and cost $0 to $60 per session, according to Tech Times.

It's part of a much larger trend in the emerging trend of telemedicine, which could help fill the gaps in a projected shortfall of doctors.

"If Google is incorporating the feature in its searches, it's likely that the company has brought on more medical practitioners to provide virtual appointments," Tech Times wrote.

For simple, common conditions, the idea is that telemedicine could save time and money.

“Reaching out to your primary physician is the best way to be treated,” Timothy Howard, senior medical director for telemed provider Teladoc, told Bloomberg Businesweek. “But if that physician is not available, we would like to be that next level.”

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