Google helps patients find info about doctors near them

Google’s Search and Maps tools can now show more information in healthcare providers’ business profiles.

If a user searches “Doctor near me” in the U.S., provider profiles can display types of insurance accepted and language assistance offered in their office.

WHY IT MATTERS 

Many patients face an uphill battle when searching for accurate provider information. An analysis by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found more than half of the online provider directories from Medicare Advantage plans surveyed had at least one inaccuracy, like a wrong location or phone number, or advertising that the provider was accepting new patients when they weren’t. 

A Commonwealth Fund-supported study from 2019 found insurance plans offering both Medicare Advantage plans and Affordable Care Act exchange plans didn’t report the same addresses 31% of the time, and that Google was the most accurate source for provider name, address and phone number. 

THE LARGER TREND

Google has made several updates to its tools during the past year to help users get more accurate information about social distancing and healthcare resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July, the tech giant piloted a feature in its Maps tool to help users check how crowded public transit is in their area to aid in social distancing efforts.

In May, Google announced new features in India to help people find testing centers, hospital resources and vaccination sites as the country saw a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

At the beginning of the year, the company rolled out tools in search to help users find places to get vaccinated. 

Just last week, Google updated its Android smartphone operating system to allow users with speech and motor impairments to navigate their phones with facial gestures and eye movements in a new feature called Camera Switches

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