If you’re one of those healthcare companies that needs to innovate on a tight budget (i.e., all of them), I always say “curate before you create.” One area that is ripe for opportunity: patient videoconferencing. Building a HIPAA-compliant, user-friendly solution that works with the dozens of available devices and platforms would be prohibitively time consuming and expensive, and the costs would make it a hard sell to management. Luckily for us, an easy-to-implement solution already exists: Google Helpouts.
Google Helpouts is a pay-to-use videoconferencing platform that uses technology from the similarly named Google Hangouts. If you’ve used Google Hangouts, you’ll know that it easily runs on a variety of platforms, is intuitive to use, and doesn’t require a lot of setup. If you have a laptop less than five years old, or a tablet, or a smartphone, you can use Helpouts.
Helpouts was launched late last year as a platform for Google users to “get help from an expert over live video.” By searching for terms like “doing my taxes,” or “guitar lesson,” users can make appointments with any number of vetted and rated experts who charge various per-minute rates for their services. Google handles the payment via Google Wallet, takes a small cut, and passes the rest to the expert.
One of the most interesting areas of Helpouts is its healthcare section. Google tapped the innovative primary care practice One Medical Group (OMG) to pilot its HIPAA-compliant Helpouts. OMG was a prime candidate for offering video consultations to patients, since it already conducts consultations via instant message, email, and phone. For more, we asked OMG’s CEO Dr. Tom X. Lee a few questions: