“62,804 top doctors. No waiting room.” Sounds pretty interesting, huh? HealthTap has been around in a free form for several years, but I just recently heard about it on a tech segment of the local news. Via the HealthTap website, a healthcare consumer can enter a health topic and quickly access a list of patient questions with doctor-provided answers, as well as links to tips and topic information pages. For example, a search on multiple sclerosis (MS) brings back doctors’ answers to questions such as, Can I catch MS? If I have MS, how can I reduce the effects of an attack? What are the signs of MS?
The HealthTap app requires you to create a personal account. To “personalize your experience,” you are guided through a series of pages to provide information about yourself: gender, location, three health topics of interest to you, etc. After that you can:
- view a feed of targeted health information, much like a health-focused Facebook feed;
- search by condition, symptoms, doctors, medications, or procedures;
- enter a question, at which point you’re given the option to (a) (for a fee) consult a live doctor via video, phone, or chat, or (b) (for free) email a doctor anonymously if none of the provided links sufficiently answer your question; or
- find doctor-created checklists.
The fee-based features of HealthTap were launched just last month as HealthTap Prime, which gives users (for a $99/month fee) access to unlimited medical advice via live video conference with participating physicians.
HealthTap also markets heavily to physicians, highlighting numerous benefits for doctors to offer services through the site and app. In fact, there is a separate HealthTap for U.S. Doctors app that allows physicians to, as one reviewer put it, “help people in [their] spare time.”
It’s no doubt the website and app are slick and user-friendly and the convenience of being able to video conference with a physician at any moment is enticing. I believe this company is onto something exciting. However, I can’t help but feel a bit skeptical of the service. I saw several typos in my browsing of physician answers, so I question the quality control and review process of the information provided. (I couldn’t find a description of their editorial process.) On their Additional Information page, they do address one of my initial concerns about the service by pointing out that virtual consults with HealthTap Prime physicians should not replace regular visits to primary care doctors. Which makes sense: your primary doctor knows your history and has access to your health records. Personally, based on what I saw on their website and app, I’m not yet ready to take a $99/month plunge. But what do you think?