HealthTap Brings Free Access to Over 5,000 Physicians Via Your Smartphone

Telemedicine solutions via smartphones and tablets are one aspect of mobile healthcare that’s seeing higher than normal adoption when compared to other concepts — likely because the devices, apps and connectivity that power telemedicine are already readily available.

We’ve recently covered the fact that Apple’s FaceTime can become HIPAA-compliant, and there’s several other mobile telehealth solutions in the pipeline from startups and healthcare organizations alike, but the area that’s ripe for adoption and success with consumers is basic telehealth services — the kind where a consumer can whip out their smartphone, fire up an app, ask a simple health-related question and receive an answer back.  While fully compliant, formal telehealth solutions are obviously relevant, keeping things simple is what consumers want.

There’s a reason sites like WebMD have become so extraordinarily popular.  They provide a crowd-sourced resource for people to discuss health issues, ask questions and learn about their ailments.  A company launching today called HealthTap expands on this model by connecting consumers to over 5,000 physicians for health-related information, free of charge via a smartphone application.

Called HealthTap Express, available for iOS and Android, the app is a question and answer style app where patients can ask any question and receive help from an expert physician who has volunteered to help via this service.  There are over 5000 US-licensed physicians taking part in the service already and the company expects that many more will join soon.  It’s not the first solution of its kind, but the fact it connects people with so many physicians is substantial.

As HealthTap itself explains it; “5,000 doctors at your fingertips – with no waiting room, no copay, anytime, anywhere – for free!  In addition, HealthTap Express allows people to get answers to any health question from thousands of America’s best doctors, at home or on the go, and gives doctors a Virtual Practice, where they answer real patient questions in real time, helping build their reputation, attract new patients and improve the quality of care.”

In terms of liability, one of the primary issues related to services like this, HealthTap explicitly states in their Terms of Use that there is no patient-physician relationship created by using the app.  “While HealthTap Medical Experts are not your personal doctor or healthcare provider, and they do not practice medicine on or through HealthTap, they can be a resource for reliable, relevant general health information,” the company explains in its Terms of Use.  “You can even find tips (created by experts and others) that may be useful for you, which you can use to create your personalized health checklist.”

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