A lot of individuals use Google to research medical services, including insurance plans like Medicare and Medicaid. Recently, Google announced several health equity-focused updates to its products, including an addition to search that provides information about public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, reports MobiHealthNews.
Announced Thursday in a blog post by Hema Budaraju (Google’s Senior Director of Product, Health, and Search Social Impact) the additions make it easier for patients to seek out doctors near them that fulfill their individual needs, addressing questions like whether a provider accepts Medicare or what languages that provider speaks. "Over the coming weeks, when people search for these programs, they'll see additional information about eligibility requirements and the enrollment process for your state and the federal government. We believe that this can help people enroll more easily into these programs,” Budaraju said during the company's Health Equity Summit.
A 2019 survey found that though 3 in 4 U.S. individuals look for health information online, the majority of those people complain about the difficulty of accessing that information, with older adults complaining more than their younger counterparts.
The tech giant's efforts to provide "timely and authoritative" health information to support individuals in their healthcare journeys are strengthened by the new search options, according to Budaraju.
According to the blog post, individuals on Medicare can now select to filter out all providers that don't accept Medicare while looking for a new doctor on their phones. This enables them to browse only local clinics that guarantee coverage. In order to help people find physicians who speak their preferred language, healthcare practitioners should now list the languages spoken at their offices in their Google profiles. A provider's Google business page can be claimed and updated, and the company aims to regularly verify to make sure the information about nearby clinics is accurate.
"I think particularly in this age, where we're seeing misinformation so prevalent [and] targeted disinformation efforts that are out there to undermine confidence in science and information. It's really critical that we amplify credible voices and provide it in ways that people can relate to and connect with," said Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President at KFF and Executive Director of the organization's Social Impact Media Program.
Google also announced it would expand its health equity research program, first announced last spring as the Fitbit Health Equity Initiative. The expanded program, now called the Google Health Equity Research Initiative, will offer selected researchers at academic institutions and nonprofits in the U.S. access to direct funding, Google Cloud credits, Fitbit devices, and analytics platform Fitabase's services.