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Prepare for medical visits with help from Google and AHRQ

December 2nd, 2020

When patients prepare for a medical visit, they’re more likely to have a high quality, efficient encounter and better physical and mental health outcomes. Starting today, we’re piloting a new tool that helps people prepare for visits by surfacing common questions they may have about their care–available when people find a local doctor’s office or hospital on Search.

Built-in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, our tool helps people build a visit plan by selecting from evidence-based questions like, “What is this test for?” as well as adding their own questions. When they’re finished, they can print or email the visit plan and bring it to the doctor’s office to help them remember important questions they want to ask. The visit plan also includes a reminder of things patients should bring to the visit, like a list of current medications, recent lab results, and their insurance card. The tool is private and secure: Google does not store any of the information.

Example of search for a gynecologist

Ten questions for more engaged care

The suggested questions, developed by AHRQ as part of its “Questions are the Answer” initiative, is designed to get people thinking about their goals and priorities for the visit. They’ve based on findings from dozens of patient safety research projects as well as AHRQ’s expertise on diagnostic testing and results, medication safety, safe transitions between care settings, and the importance of patient and family engagement in healthcare.

“Patients who prepare for medical visits by prioritizing their questions, strengthen their role as members of their own health care team,” said Jeffrey Brady, M.D., M.P.H., a preventive medicine physician and Director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the AHRQ. Dr. Brady added, “This helps clinicians maximize their time with patients so they can better address their most critical health needs. Clinicians appreciate that healthcare can be more efficient, effective, and higher quality when they work together with patients.”

3 steps for planning an upcoming visit

Protecting health information

People come to Google for health-related information every day, and we’re committed to helping them get the information they need along their healthcare journey. The tool does not gather any personal health information or store any of the information that is entered into the tool. People have the option to print or email their visit plan, and people can use this tool without signing into a Google account. This tool is in a pilot phase and is currently available to a limited number of people in the United States and will expand to more users over time.

Healthcare can be confusing and overwhelming, but simply thinking about goals before meeting with a clinician can have a huge impact on patient experience and health outcomes. With the visit planning tool, we hope more people will effectively plan for medical visits, get more out of their visits, and ultimately achieve better health outcomes.