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Google Reportedly Testing Doctor-Patient Video Chats

It can be a hassle to go to your doctor, or even make an appointment with them. Searching for information about an ailment online can help, but sometimes it simply makes you paranoid about illnesses you might not have at all. Google might change that soon; the company is reportedly testing a video chat feature that would let people talk to doctors when they're searching for medical information.

The feature was spotted by a Reddit user who searched for "knee pain" on Google, and in the results was a blue "Talk with a doctor now" prompt with a video icon next to it. Google confirmed to Engadget later that it is testing a feature similar to the company's existing Helpouts service, which would allow users searching for symptoms to talk to doctors over video chat.

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The company released a statement to Gizmodo, saying, "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. We're trying this new feature to see if it's useful to people."

Back in November 2013, Google launched Helpouts as a marketplace for "experts," such as doctors, teachers, chefs and musicians, to pair up with users who needed questions answered. Google's current Helpout partners include Weight Watchers and One Medical, and prices for video sessions range from free to $20 per hour.

Currently, there's no word on how much a Google video session with a doctor would cost, and it's unclear how many doctors would be available for online chats, or how regularly they would be available. Considering how busy most physicians are, it would take many doctors to serve the hoards of people searching Google for health information. While it will likely be a while before we see this feature fully formed on Google, it could be a useful option to have for people who cannot make it into a doctors office, or just want a question answered live by a professional.