Two new features in search and map results are being rolled out by Google that will make it easier to connect with virtual healthcare providers.
They are designed to help people find virtual healthcare options on a local, regional and national level.
One of the features is specific to Google My Business/Google Maps, and the other is a pilot feature that is being added to organic search results.
Display Virtual Care Options in Google My Business Profile
Business profiles in Google My Business will highlight available virtual care options.
They will be especially visible when the business profile comes up in search results.
If you click on the link given, users will be taken to the provider’s virtual care website to get more information.
There are cases were people can schedule an appointment with the healthcare provider from the landing page.
Healthcare providers, including doctors, hospitals and mental health professionals are able to add their own offerings to their Google My Business profiles.
A new change that has come to Google My Business are links to the health provider’s COVID-19 information page. These changes will be applied automatically.
Virtual Care Platform in Search Results
Google will also start showing widely-available virtual care platforms as a pilot feature in US search results.
“For example, when people search for “immediate care”, we’ll be able to also present available virtual care options and related information such as the out-of-pocket price charged for a visit (for those without insurance) and an easy way for people to directly connect with the virtual care platform.”
Google only facilitates the connection between a healthcare provider and a patient.
After that, the visit between the patient and provider can take place on the provider’s preferred platform.
Many Healthcare Providers Opting for Virtual Visits
As Google states in its announcement, many healthcare providers are responding to the COVID-19 by treating patients over the web.
That’s what makes these features especially necessary right now.
“To prevent the spread of COVID-19, many healthcare providers are reducing or stopping in-person visits for a variety of patient needs, from the treatment of chronic conditions to mental health services to evaluating cough and cold symptoms.
Yet, people need a way to continue getting medical care from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
Interest in virtual care and telehealth has risen “dramatically” since the beginning of the pandemic, Google says.