Google Search is gaining users the ability to find doctors’ appointment availability to plan their health checkups, without having to use a third-party solution. The update was showcased Thursday at The Check Up, Google’s second annual health-focused event. In addition to a Google Search update, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company at its virtual event announced a new program to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib) within Fitbit fitness-tracking devices to help people receive alerts for signs of an irregular heart rhythm. Announced plans to integrate support for , Google also announced a series of Health AI updates that aim to transform smartphones to serve as stethoscopes or ultrasound machines for quick diagnosis even in remote areas.
By partnering with healthcare providers and multiple scheduling solution providers, Google search Is to roll Ability for users to find appointment availability for doctors and local care providers. Users will see available appointment dates and times for doctors in the area directly through the search results.
Appointment availability will appear after you search for a particular merchant or facility on Google Search. Once the relevant appointment date appears, you can hit Book button next to the available schedule. This will take you to the third party booking site.
Google Initially working with some healthcare providers and scheduling solution providers in the US, including MinuteClinic at CVS. This feature will also be rolled out to users searching in English in the US in the coming days. However, it aims to be available in other markets over time.
In addition to booking appointments through Google, Fitbit announced that it is working on an AFib algorithm that will work with existing Optical Photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors available on its wearable devices to detect and alert users about irregular heart rhythms. The algorithm is currently with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for review. However, it is expected to be made available by Fitbit over time as an update to consumer fitness-tracking bands and smartwatches.
Citing an internal research, Google said its in-house algorithm correctly identified undiagnosed AFib 98 percent of the time.
Companies including Apple already have support for detecting and alerting users about AFib. However, this move from Fitbit could bring AFib detection at several price points.
Separately, Google announced its early-stage development under the Health AI division at the Check Up event. One of these advancements is to use the smartphone’s built-in microphone to serve as a stethoscope.
Google cited research into how it is using an inbuilt microphone to record a participant’s heart sounds when held over the chest.
The latest research examines whether smartphones can detect heartbeats and murmurs, the company said. However, this detection will be limited to certain smartphone models as it requires specific hardware inputs.
“We are currently in the early stages of testing clinical studies, but we hope that our work can empower people to use smartphones as an additional tool for accessible health assessments,” said In a blog post, Greg Corrado, head of health AI at Google.
Google is also working with partners including EyePACS and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital to test photos from smartphone cameras to help detect diabetes and non-diabetic diseases.
In addition to using smartphone cameras to detect heartbeats, murmurs and signs of diabetes, Google said it is working on using artificial intelligence (AI) with smartphones to provide maternal ultrasound screening . The company has partnered with Northwestern Medicine to develop and test its models to expand research.
Composite research into combining AI and smartphones to boost healthcare is currently in its early stages and may take some time and more effort to work in public.