If you aren’t too keen on sitting in a doctor’s office for a checkup, it’s very easy to look up your symptoms online and join medical chats. But some doctors recommend against such self-diagnosing practices. They say, you may end up thinking you have a life-threatening illness when it’s really something very minor. They're concerned these sites are flawed and serial entrepreneur Ron Gutman agrees.
“On the Internet,” Gutman says, “every headache becomes a brain tumor in four clicks or less.” On Google and other search engines, you can find massive amounts of medical information, but how much of it is actually accurate? Gutman and his colleagues are concerned that people are seeking online sites for medical advice and could be getting false information about health issues that at times could be startling and very scary. To combat this phenomenon, Gutman launched HealthTap.
He started the online service back in 2010 to make it easier to get answers to your medical questions from trustworthy doctors. The service grew in popularity, servicing over 100 million people. How does it work? Consumers can submit questions right from their iPhone or iPad with up to 150 characters, and can get questions answered by a pool of 60,000 doctors from across the U.S. “We are the first ever company to provide a health service that actually has a mobile app for the iPhone. A doctor can practice from their iPad,” Gutman told Forbes.
Since HealthTap did so well, Gutman wanted to expand on his idea. His company just announced the launch of a new service, HealthTap Prime. For $99 a month, plus $10 for every additional family, subscribers can get unlimited access to live videoconferences with real doctors. IHS, a research company, predicts that by 2018, telehealth will have revenues up to $1.9 billion.
Telehealth services are created to help prevent high cost doctor visits for conditions or symptoms that you can learn about in the privacy of your home or anywhere you can access HealthTap. With HealthTap, you have access to unlimited live doctor consults, 24/7; you can get personalized prescriptions, referrals, and checklists. Subscribers also benefit from priority text answers from top doctors.
Although HealthTap has a lot to offer, it might not work for everyone, Forrester analyst Peter Mueller told Wired. He believes Gutman’s service wouldn’t be too effective for those suffering with chronic conditions who need to go directly to the doctor for tests. “It can only go so deep. At some point, you’ve got to see a doctor and have a physical checkout, and with lots of illnesses there are limitations to what telemedicine can do,” Mueller said.