October 16, 2019in Virtual Care

Welcome to the New HealthTap

By now most of us have heard of telemedicine. And for many who live in rural areas, or have difficulty getting to medical care, being able to call, text or video chat with a doctor can be a lifesaver.

But like many things in healthcare, telemedicine can be one of the many disjointed aspects in receiving care. You may not be able to see your chosen doctor, your insurance may not cover the service, or you may not remember to follow up.

Enter HealthTap. 

HealthTap provides exactly the level of virtual care and follow up people want when they want it, and all of it is provided by board-certified doctors. "Our mission is ambitious, but also very straightforward: we want to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives," explains HealthTap co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Sean Mehra. "It was also founded on the principle that healthcare should be a fundamental human right and everyone should have affordable and convenient access to healthcare--quality healthcare." 

Imagine you have a headache. Instead of turning to Google to ask "What causes headaches?" and potentially reading in three clicks you might have a brain tumor, you can open up HealthTap to ask your question. It can be as specific as you want and, the best part, you will get a personalized answer from a doctor.

Now, let's say you have had multiple headaches recently. Based on your medical history or other symptoms, HealthTap may suggest you talk with a doctor. You can schedule your appointment right away, and then text, chat or have a video call with a doctor wherever you are—all from the HealthTap app. The app also lets you track your follow up care—and keep a record of your treatment. So the next time you have a medical question or need care, everything is all in one place.

The Marriage of Medical Information and Care

When people have health questions, they turn to the Internet for health advice 20 times more than they see a doctor. But even Google recognizes the experience is unsatisfactory, citing on its site that "health content on the web can be difficult to navigate, and tends to lead people from mild symptoms to scary and unlikely conditions, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress."

What's more: They find it of little or no help most of the time. This is the issue that HealthTap decided to tackle nine years ago: Find ways to connect the self-research that people do before seeing a doctor with better medical advice.

"So that's how HealthTap started. It was to solve that problem, which even today continues to be something people need," Mehra says.

From the outset HealthTap wanted the answers to health questions to be trustworthy, personalized, free, and fast. The best source for answers that check all of those boxes is real doctors. So HealthTap created a place where people could ask any medical question and pose it to their community of doctors. Then they worked at refining and improving that library of medical answers.The information is peer reviewed, and other doctors continually add to it, up vote it, or update it as the science or approach changes.

From there, it was a logical next step to connect people to their doctors when they needed more than an answer--when they needed a personalized diagnosis, a treatment plan, and follow up.

Enter The New HealthTap

HealthTap now offers a one-stop virtual care shop. You can get your prescriptions, your lab results and keep all your records in one place. If you want, your medical history and previous interactions with HealthTap doctors can be saved in the app, so the next time you see a HealthTap doctor they have everything already in front of them to help make an informed diagnosis.

HealthTap may have started out as a response to the limits of online health information, but nine years later the company has built a seamless healthcare experience. 

Anyone in the world can access HealthTap's medical knowledge and network of healthcare providers. The app is available and distributed globally without restriction. You can download the app, and then sign up to use the system to set up your health profile. From there, you are free to browse questions and answers, as well as to submit your own questions and get answers from the medical community. You also can peruse care guides. 

The premium feature includes virtual care visits with HealthTap's broad network board-certified doctors. When you get a referral, you're usually talking with a doctor in less than 10 minutes.

There are two different models available for HealthTap's virtual care visits:

  1. Free app download and pay out of pocket for doctor visits. Currently it is $39 for a virtual primary care visit.
  2. Annual subscription benefit from employers and other organizations, such as labor unions, temp staffing agencies, governments, municipalities, and large contract workforce employers, to provide virtual primary healthcare to their members.

If you receive HealthTap as a benefit from your employer, you will get a notification that the service is available to you—usually for a very nominal annual fee or even free. Once you click subscribe, you can set up your profile and get started with unlimited access to HealthTap's network of physicians—as well as its medical Q&A and care guides. The AI built into the platform understands your entire medical profile, including your age, where you live, and previous and/or existing medical conditions to help you get personalized care, when and where you need it. "The app gets smarter over time and increasingly better at efficiently answering your questions and giving you care," Mehra says. Specifically, it'll get better at routing you away from unnecessary emergency room visits or in person doctor visits when you don't need them—saving you the cost and inconvenience of making an appointment or waiting to see a physician.

A Seamless Experience

Consider the number of apps on your phone that can now track everything from your periods, aches and pains, heart rate and weight, to your fitness activities. Even telemedicine is a point solution that cannot stand on its own or provide true virtual care. Also, think about the portal that your hospital or healthcare system logs you into that doesn't speak to anything else. Healthcare tech is a disjointed experience.

"Technology has done a great job of breaking down barriers in so many aspects of our lives--Uber for ride share, Amazon for shopping. We asked ourselves--Why can't it do the same for access to medical information and care?" says Mehra. "Our goal has been to create the digital front door, behind-the-scenes integrating and partnering with the resources and experiences people need to have a convenient, seamless, highly personalized experience with primary healthcare."

Welcome to HealthTap.

Michael Berg

Michael Berg

Michael Berg is a freelance writer based in New York, who specializes in health and finance. A variety of health publications and websites have featured his writing. In addition, he has worked with a number of brands such as WW (formerly WeightWatchers), Anthem Healthcare, Aon, and multiple hospital systems to educate their members in ways to improve their health and to choose their healthcare options. In addition, he served as editor for Muscle & Fitness and Flex.