Google Health Updates include an easier way to see if a clinic offers free or low-cost care | Engadget

At its annual health event, The Check Up, Google announced a series of updates to Search, Fitbit, and developers. On the search front, the company says it will soon identify community health centers and make it clear whether those facilities have free or low-cost care options. It looks like there will be a label that says “offers free or low-cost care based on individual circumstances.”

Additionally, Google says it has used Duplex to call hundreds of thousands of US health care providers and verify their information. Conversational AI has also been used to check whether providers accept various state Medicaid plans.

After several pauses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid will have a re-enrollment deadline this year. If people in the US who are currently enrolled in the program do not re-enroll by March 31, they will lose their health care coverage. To help ensure people keep their coverage, Google says it will make it easier for everyone to find re-enrollment information in Search.


To help those seeking help in a crisis, Google has partnered with ThroughLine, which it says is the “largest verified network of crisis and mental health helplines worldwide.” As a result of the partnership, Google will expand the number of crisis helplines it shows at the top of search results in more languages ​​and countries for inquiries related to personal crisis situations, such as suicide and domestic violence.

Google search page showing suicide and crisis lifeline results for the query


As for Fitbit, Google is opening up more Health Metrics Dashboard features to users who don’t have a subscription. The company says that, for example, users will be able to see trends in metrics like respiratory rate, skin temperature, and blood oxygen levels over longer periods of time.

Meanwhile, Google hinted at some health-focused updates for developers. He discussed a set of development tools called the Open Health Stack, which he described as “open source building blocks built on an interoperable data standard.” In other words, the Open Health Stack is designed to help developers build apps for healthcare workers to access key data and information, such as population health data.

Google says the suite is based on Fast Care Interoperability standards and can be used to build apps that keep data safe for offline use in areas without an internet connection or cellular coverage. For example, a developer in Kenya called Intellisoft Consulting is building a maternal health app designed to help community health volunteers and pregnant women in rural communities.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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