HealthTap’s Social Network of 5,000 Doctors Is Ready to Give Free Advice

| January 31, 2012

Back in the 1990's when our department had a website, I started uploading several powerpoint lectures from various sources with the intent that such material would be used as what was then a growing source of information online that was peer-reviewed, accurate and current.

It quickly became apparent the need and desire by patients to reach out and inquire about their own individual cases based on the lecture material.

One in particular stands out, a lecture dealing with cervical cytology, abnormal pap smears, therapy and follow-up.  At first there were only a handful of e-mails which quickly became dozens and hundreds of such inquiries. 

Initially, I referred the questions (and essentially the patients) to gynecology and gynecology oncology colleagues who at first were willing to respond to patients and in some cases, provide professional services if the patients desired.  Ultimately, based on the volume of inquiries and growing concern about patient privacy, e-mail communication and risks to providers, I removed the lectures.

The story was similar for lectures related to brain tumors, prostate pathology and microbiology.

Since then we have watched the trials and tribulations with sites and services such as Dr. Koop, Google Health and WebMD.

Now comes news of a social media network that works for patients and providers from HealthTap:

It’s fair to raise an eyebrow when a social network for healthcare comes along, but this network just might make you raise both eyebrows in surprise: HealthTap has created a healthcare social network with more than 5,000 real-live doctors to answer patient questions. Not peers, not “experts” and not brands. Health questions aren’t posted for the world to see or comment on. This is a private network between a patient and thousands of doctors.

“Facebook and Twitter are dangerous for doctors, but everyone wants to take part in social networking,” says HealthTap CEO and founder Ron Gutman, referring to the perils of patient confidentiality and lawsuits for giving wrong advice. Social and medicine haven’t boded well under the shared banner of technology, but Gutman is creating a social environment that works for doctors and patients.

HealthTap is launching a mobile app (free) called HealthTap Express that lets users ask any health question and get immediate answers from more than 5,000 doctors for free. This isn’t Yahoo Answers or Quora. Questions asked on HealthTap are always answered by a professional held accountable for their answers, which can be reviewed by peers. These are real, North American-based doctors with licenses and contact information.

Getting these doctors to become part of a social network was no small task. HealthTap began 20 weeks ago (Gutman refers to the time in “weeks,” similar to the way a new parent refers to the age of their child)  as a network for OB/GYNs and pregnant women. This was a smart vertical to tackle first; as many doctors in this field are some of the industry’s most vocal about preventative medicine, patient rights and universal healthcare. Word spread of the network, like it does for all successful social networks, and today HealthTap’s app has grown to incorporate 82 healthcare fields. The app is available for iOS and Android, smartphones and tablets.

Read more.

Source: New York Times


Category: Pathology News

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