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Could Google's HelpOuts be a market place for expert patients?

This week, Google introduced a new product, HelpOuts. The idea is pretty simple: experts make their time available, at reasonable rates. Anyone can sign up for time with an expert. Google touts using HelpOuts for things like learning a language, doing yoga, getting help with computer programing and…wait for it… healthcare services.

On this week’s TWiG {This Week in Google} podcast, the hosts very quickly see the healthcare applications. In fact, they even postulate about using HelpOuts for assistance navigating [Healthcare.Gov](] and the insurance marketplace.

You are thinking what I’m thinking, right?

For starters, this throws the doors wide open for the idea of telehealth. For the price of a co-pay, you could dial up a doctor for a quick consult via Google Hangouts.

But, wait, there’s more!

What happens when patients are the experts? What if hospitals, doctors, and health systems could buy time with patients? Hey, we want to do this new service, would that be valuable for you? Or perhaps, could you help us review our new patient portal and offer suggestions for improvements?

I love these marketplaces which disintermediate the whole concept of expertise and time. We’re increasingly accepting of the idea of patients as experts. But, to date, there hasn’t been a great way to find the best patient experts by area of expertise and availability. Might HelpOuts prove to be the for pairing patient experts with provider organizations, other patients and the healthcare industry at large?

I bet, collectively, we can grow a list of some pretty clever healthcare uses for HelpOuts. For instance:

  • Employee health services
  • Dietary and wellness counseling
  • Billing and insurance form review - this one has huge potential, in my mind!
  • Rural healthcare delivery
  • Midwife and doula coaching
  • Second opinion
  • Medical librarian service for patients - someone who helps find articles and interpret them for patients

What thoughts come to your mind? Anyone thinking about signing up as an expert?

This Week in Google 223