Google is rolling out two new features in search and maps results that make it easy to connect with virtual healthcare providers.
These features are designed to help people find virtual healthcare options on a local, regional, and national level.
One feature is specific to Google My Business/Google Maps, and a pilot feature is being added to organic search results.
Here’s more about each of the features Google is starting to roll out this week.
Display Virtual Care Options in Google My Business Profile
Business profiles in Google My Business will now highlight any available virtual care options.
These offerings will be especially visible when the business profile is surfaced in search results.
Clicking on the link shown in the example above will take people to that provider’s virtual care website to get more information.
In many cases, people will be able to schedule an appointment with the healthcare provider from the landing page.
Healthcare providers like hospitals, doctors, and mental health professionals can now add these offerings to their Google My Business profiles
Another change to Google My Business listings, which will be applied automatically, are links to the health provider’s COVD-19 information page.
Google recently provided some advice on optimizing health websites for search results.
Virtual Care Platform in Search Results
Google will begin 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 will only facilitate the connection between a healthcare provider and a patient.
From there, 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.
Google has been acting fast to keep its search results as useful as possible during this time.
New features have been introduced for businesses of all kinds, not just healthcare providers.
Source - SEARCHENGINEJOURNAL