Today Google launched its Helpout feature – an adapted version of the existing ‘Hangout’ video conferencing system that is built into Google+. This is their promotional video:
Helpouts have a health category
(currently without any listings at least visible to Australia) and at launch Google are making some provision for at least minimal verification of health care providers to provide paid services direct to consumers. The explanatory material suggests this will be USA only at least initially, yet my own application as an Australian doesn’t seem to have hit any road blocks yet.
Helpout seems aimed at creating a marketplace of small scale one to one tutorial style sessions.
I can see many applications for this in training of health service personnel.
But perhaps there is a larger market for health care providers. Physicians in particular spend much of their life explaining and educating whether to patients, other providers or interested parties eg managers, journalists, law enforcement to name but a few. As the helpout health market expands there is likely to be a wash of information of variable quality. One hopes that Google’s ranking based on user feedback is good enough to act as a gatekeeper and not allow the system to become a direct to patient marketing avenue by those organisations with a purely exploitative or profit driven motive or some of the more dubious quasi scientific organisations.
This could be a huge advance in global health education…..perhaps.