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COVID-19: Google rolls out virtual healthcare options for businesses in the healthcare sector

Apr 22, 2020   |   Business Growth
COVID-19: Google rolls out virtual healthcare options for businesses in the healthcare sector -, Milestone Inc.

Google has been rolling out new features regularly to support healthcare websites which are providing valuable information and services for the current on-going COVID-19 Pandemic. Doctors and many other healthcare professionals have reduced or stopped in-person visits to prevent any further spread of the corona virus, however during this period, patients can connect with healthcare professionals for their medical care over the phone or video conference from the comfort and safety of their homes.

As a result, we’ve seen interest in virtual care and telehealth rise dramatically. Below is an example of “Telehealth” reaching 100% popularity in March 2020.

example of “Telehealth” reaching 100% popularity in March 2020 -, Milestone Inc.

And to answer this demand, Google rolled out three new features in the search result page – Google My Business (GMB) and Maps – making it easy for people to connect to virtual healthcare options, whether it’s to a doctor’s office down the street, the hospital across town, or to a national telehealth platform.

  1. See COVID-19 info for visitors
  2. Get Online Care
  3. Online Care Pack

See COVID-19 info for visitors, Get Online Care -, Milestone Inc.

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See COVID-19 info for visitors

To help communicate changes for the operating hours of healthcare providers and walk-in visit policies that might affect someone’s visit, Google is automatically surfacing a link directly to the health providers’ COVID-19 information page on Search Result and Maps. To have this feature in your GMB and Map, make sure that your website has most of the following –

  1. Dedicated page(s) for COVID-19
  2. COVID-19 queries with optimized Title, Meta and Header tags
  3. Content with high-quality information on COVID-19
  4. Add FAQs on COVID-19 queries
  5. Proper mentioning of your working hours and how to contact you
  6. Schema for COVID-19 announcements

Along with the above information on your website, also update your GMB with a COVID-19 post by navigating to the “COVID-19 update” tab and clicking on “Post”. Make sure you cover the following points –

  1. Hours of operation and temporary closure
  2. Changes to how the business operates, such as takeout or delivery only, call for details, etc.
  3. Updates to how the location is being managed – in relation to safety and hygiene
  4. Requests for support

If you have to make an urgent announcement and have no access to HTML, you can submit the announcement to Google Search Console (GSC). You can do it by visiting your GSC here and follow the steps provided on the screen. This is an alternative process and is not recommended as it is short-lived and the announcement will last for a month only. This feature seems to be temporary until the pandemic ends.

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Get Online Care

To display the “Get Online Care” option in your search listing, make sure that your website has a feature to schedule the virtual care visit. This is a separate feature that you can get from a third-party who provides a Medical Scheduler software. Once it is integrated into your website or if you have a separate platform with your choice of provider, you can add the link to it in your GMB and update the “Services Offered” section by adding services like telemedicine, telehealth, video visits, or house calls.

People searching for you will see a “get online care” link in their search results and maps. Clicking this link will take them to your virtual care website where they can find more information on the offered service and also schedule a virtual healthcare visit.

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Online Care Pack

Google is also rolling out an Online Care option as a pilot feature for US search results. This will display available virtual care options and related information in a pack, 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, when searched for “immediate care”, for example.

Note that Google will only facilitate the connection between a healthcare provider and a patient. The visit between the patient and provider will take place on the healthcare provider’s platform of choice.

In addition to these three features, Google is also offering technology infrastructure solutions to healthcare providers to assist with care delivery and operations. This includes –

  1. HIPAA-compliant doctor-patient virtual visit for telehealth
  2. Chatbots to respond to COVID-19 questions over chat, voice, and social channels
  3. Capacity-planning and demand forecasting of key medical supplies to manage supply chains

We hope you are safe and indoors as we strive together to flatten the curve. Meanwhile, our Milestone Team is here round-the-clock to help you and your business in these troubling times and watch this space to be abreast with the latest updates and trends that your business can adopt to reach your customers in the best possible manner. Call us at +1 408 200 2211 or write to us at [email protected].

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