Sep 27 AT 8:31 AM Anthony Domanico 11 Comments

The future of healthcare is mobile: HealthTap helps you connect with real physicians


As someone who, by day, works in the healthcare industry, stories about how we use our Android devices to enhance our medical and physical well being hit a little closer to home for me. During my daily perusal of Google Reader this morning, I found a story that may help shape the future of healthcare in the United States and beyond.

HealthTap has launched a beta service to the public that allows users of its Android and iOS application to engage in a question and answer session with real-life physicians virtually anytime and anywhere. As an added benefit, the service is completely free, though likely only for the duration of the beta. You know, until they figure out a way to capitalize on the service.

So, how does it work?

HealthTap has built a network of over 5,000 US-licensed physicians who are ready to answer questions at a moment’s notice. You can use either the Android application or their web interface to ask whatever questions you may have. Whichever physician happens to be available at that time will provide some guidance and information to help you make medical decisions.

This can be extremely helpful for those in situations where you’re not sure you (or your children) are feeling bad enough to go to the urgent care or your primary care physician to get something checked out.

Is it safe/reliable?

What really sets HealthTap apart is that there is essentially a checks and balances system in place that ensures you will receive the best advice possible. When a physician responds to your question, other physicians are able to see and agree/disagree with the advice of the first physician. If that answer gets enough “agrees,” it becomes a trusted answer that other users will be able to see when they search for already-answered questions on HealthTap.

How to Get Started

If you’re interested in what HealthTap has to offer, you’ll need to do two things.

  1. Head over to HealthTap’s website and sign up for a free account. You’ll have to answer some basic questions about your current medical condition (height, weight, pre-existing conditions, etc.).
  2. (Optional) Download the HealthTap Android application on your phone.

Final Thoughts

Yes, the answers provided will probably be pretty basic at first, and physicians will more often than not advise you to go in and see a doctor to get your condition properly diagnosed. That being said, e-medicine and tele-medicine are growing trends in the health care industry, and it will be interesting to see whether services such as HealthTap take off in the future. Perhaps, as our physicians’ willingness to embrace these new, alternative avenues for providing care to patients grows, we will see more conditions being better managed by these services.

Then again, perhaps that’s just my pipedream. What do you guys think? Are services such as HealthTap beneficial to the population? Will they help to bolster our healthcare system, which will soon represent more than 20% of our federal spending? Sound off by dropping a comment below. I look forward to the discussion.


Via: LifeHacker

Source: ReadWriteWeb

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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    Useful app… but i would be a bit weary at first until it builds more credibility. Im sure every answer will end with “contact your physician” . I have a hard time doctors will take the time to grab there phones and provide feedback, unless it is part of some young doctors requirements to move on. Time will tell.. Great article Anthony !

  • Lindsay

    Interesting to see how companies are developing mobile apps for healthcare use! We’ll be discussing mobile health at CTIA Enterprise & Applications next month in San Diego, if you’re around you should check it out! Score a free pass by going here and enter the code “DEV4CTIA”… make sure you select “CTIA” as your sponsoring company!

  • JPB

    Um, I don’t see any link on the site where you can see specific credentials for their doctors. Before using this, I’d like some proof that real, licensed M.D.s are on the other side of the virtual stethoscope.

    • JPB

      …..continuing my comment.

      Particularly since I just click on Dr. Stuart Flechner link, the one under which it shows him to be “Pediatrics, Urology” specialist. When I click, it shows him to be MD, Transplant Surgery.

      Yes, I know he can be both. But that looks fishy on first inspection.

      I still want to know a lot more about the MD’s.

  • CTown

    How is this service funded?

  • heeros

    I’m worried that everything seems to be getting less personal. It’s almost like having an automation as a doctor. Part of going to a doctor, and having a regular one is that you trust his judgement and his desire for your well being. if you get answers from a “cloud” of doctors it just doesn’t seem as “safe”. What if you have a preexisting medical condition and you forget to mention it when you ask on this network. The doctor won’t be able to give you proper advice, or you might find advice you think applies to you, but doesn’t. A doctors answer might be a good one, but might not be all encompassing, or too general to include all eventualities.

    I guess all I want to say is that I don’t trust this. How do I know I’m being diagnosed correctly, and how can doctors really “care” about your well being if they’ve never seen you?

    • AME

      Nobody’s expecting this to service to become your primary care physician. I think it’s pretty obvious that this is for advice only. I’m sure the TOS outline very clearly that what you get is not a diagnosis of any condition, but just advice from a professional to the best of their ability via a text. I wouldn’t trust this 100% either, but that’s just because I know I’m not supposed to.

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    • Mar

      Can’t expect less from Man Shitty, eh?

  • mexican001

    I think the app should make the questions and give a diagnosis based on the user’s answers, just like akinator. I guess that would be more accurate and safer