What you need to know
- The second annual Google Health event takes place on Thursday.
- Google is updating Search so that users can quickly check for and book available appointments.
- YouTube is expanding its health features to more countries, including Japan, Brazil, and India.
- Google is researching whether smartphone microphones can be used to detect heart defects.
The second annual Google Health event commenses on Thursday, and the company is taking time to highlight some updates coming to its products including Search and YouTube. Google also discusses research it's conducting on how to make Android phones more useful for detecting health disorders.
Have your appointment and book it, too
The first update focuses on Search, building upon Google's previous efforts to make the service more helpful for finding health information. The company recently announced that it was making it easier to find healthcare providers with Search. The latest effort will expand on this by allowing users to view available appointments for providers.
The effort is led by Hema Budaraju, who heads Google's Health and Social Impact work for Search, and includes partners such as MinuteClinic at CVS and scheduling solution partners. The feature is coming to the U.S., and while Google is "still in the early stages" of rolling it out, it hopes to expand it to more regions and with more partners.
Expanding YouTube's health information
Speaking of expanding, YouTube launched a set of health-focused features in 2021 that included health source information panels on videos so that users know that the information is credible. This also includes "shelves" that make these sourced videos more readily available when looking for health information. Now, YouTube is making these resources available in more countries outside the United States, including Japan, India, and Brazil.
Your smartphone's camera and mic
Google is also trying to turn the best Android phones into pocketable health sensors. The company has previously demonstrated how it can use its smartphone's camera to measure respiratory rate. Google hopes to extend this with research into whether or not smartphone cameras can help determine eye health to detect various diseases such as diabetic retinopathy from external eye photos.
The company is also researching whether or not smartphone microphones can be used to listen for heart sounds and check for potential murmurs and various heart valve disorders. Google says the research is in the early stages and that checking for conditions such as aortic stenosis normally requires specialized equipment. However, Google hopes that this could lead to more early detections without an in-person assessment.
These are just the latest examples of how Google is furthering its commitment to "democratize" health information and metrics. This includes making features like ECG measurements available on the Fitbit Sense using a PPG AFib technology, which Google hopes to enable soon on its devices pending a recently submitted review to the FDA. You can read more about Google's efforts in the Keyword blog. You can also dive into how Google uses AI and machine learning to help improve access to healthcare services.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.