Though many doctors and clinics are limiting or halting in-person visits to restrict the spread of COVID-19, people still need access to healthcare providers. To help you get the care you might need, whether or not it's related to COVID-19, Google is making it easier for folks to find out what virtual healthcare options are available to them via Search and Maps.
Providers will be able to add virtual care offerings to their business profiles. When you search for a clinic or hospital, you may see a "get online care" link, through which you might set up a voice or video call with a medical professional. Search results might include national virtual care platforms as well as local clinics and hospitals.
In addition, Google will surface more details about virtual health services when you search for terms like "urgent care." You might, for instance, see a list of virtual health options along with the out-of-pocket cost for those with high deductibles or no health insurance. It'll roll out this feature as a pilot in the US over the next week.
The company is also automatically adding links to providers' COVID-19 information pages on Search and Maps. Google Health’s director of product management Julie Black wrote in a blog post that interest in telehealth and virtual care has risen “dramatically" since the onset of the pandemic.
Over the last several weeks, Google made government announcements about COVID-19 and travel advisories related to the pandemic more prominent in Search. It also extended free access to premium video chat features in Google Meet through September, including the option to record and save calls. That might come in handy if you want to remember what your doctor said during a virtual consultation.