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New App Translates ‘Doctor Speak’ For Patients

HealthTap allows patients to consult physicians' posts on common questions or email them individually to address specific concerns, costing a fraction...

John Pugh, BI
John Pugh, BI on October 14, 2012. @johnpugh

A new online application is democratizing access to medical information and health-care advice. HealthTap allows users access to a database of 15,000+ doctors in 115 specialties who can give answers to specific health questions, such as, “Can scoliosis be cured?” The doctor’s responses are then peer-reviewed by fellow participating medics, either giving clout to or denying a doctor’s claim. In addition to rewarding well-informed doctors with positive exposure and public relations, physicians who engage in one-on-one consultations receive monetary compensation for their participation.

A new feature of the app now connects the community to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed, which hosts a wealth of published medical data that both patients and medical professionals can consult. The company sees its network of doctors acting as mediators for the dissemination of this information, translating the complexity and nuance of these materials from doctor-speak into plain English. In this way, the platform hopes to expand the collective knowledge of its user base and transform the way that normal individuals locate and access valuable health-related information.

As would-be patients interact through the platform both online and through the mobile app, the service gets even more personalized, offering users a curated feed of relevant articles each time they log in. And if they’re willing to spend some money, the app also gives users the ability to directly consult with a medical professional of their choice, asking specific questions about an symptom or condition without having to sit in a waiting room. According to the company, the HealthTap app is the only platform with a HIPAA-secure secure feature, which ensures your anonymity when storing or sending sensitive documents, such as medical records, to the online consulting physician.

Testimonials from participating doctors are featured on the website, including this one from Dr. Lisa Roberts, who says:

The HealthTap website is an exciting and promising new way for physician experts to share trusted information to parents in a way that is user-friendly. I’m excited to see this new forum for exchanging medical information.

If successful, this service, along with other similar models, might form the basis for the future of medical consultation – convenient, cost-effective, trusted and on-demand. At $9.99 per question, this could be a much more affordable option for those who would otherwise be paying $200+ for an actual doctor’s visit. The app is available on iPhone, iPad, Android, and HealthTap’s website.

For more information, visit HealthTap’s website or the PubMed search engine.

HealthTap

Images via CBSNews, ThinkProgress, ABCNews

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