When people have a medical question, they schedule an appointment to see their doctor. Palo Alto, California-based HealthTap aims to change that. The company’s free web and mobile applications enable 24/7 access to personalized, relevant and trusted health information from thousands of leading doctors without leaving your home or office.
At the HealthTap website, users post questions and doctors post brief answers. The service is free and the doctors aren’t paid. Instead, they are allowed to use the resource to enhance their real-life practice with more efficient patient visits (saving everyone time and money), as well as build their reputation and attract new patients.
In recent years, people are turning more and more to the Internet for health information and to “self-diagnose.” With an increasing variety of medical apps available for the iPhone, iPad, Android, and other mobile platforms, self-diagnosis has become even more accessible. Unfortunately, however, checking the boxes next to a variety of symptoms and waiting for a mobile device to spew forth a litany of potential ailments lacks the sensitivity and accuracy of a human diagnostician. Further, those who are not trained in medicine may misinterpret symptoms as erroneously relevant or erroneously irrelevant, leading to misdiagnosis.
Intake interviews — the long series of forms and questions that patients must fill out and answer prior to receiving medical care — are critical for accurate diagnosis and treatment. However, they’re boring and can be confusing, which decreases the rate at which patients respond accurately and completely. The company Tonic Health is trying to revolutionize data collection with a patient-friendly iPad app called Tonic that promises to make the process of an intake interview fun and interactive — game-like, even — for patients.