Mobile app HealthTap connects users with a network of physicians who can answer questions and even chat with patients. Micro transactions let patients ask questions on the go.

When micro-transactions facilitate doctor and patient mobile interactions

The amount of advice available to users of the Internet has no limit, and digital companies have even been profiting from limiting, curating or rating the sources of that advice, like Amazon and Yelp with their reviewers. But getting quality information from specialists is even more valuable, especially on the go. So startups have been democratizing the way people have been able to access expert advice, and lets them ask via smartphone - Localmind offers location-based answers, while Advice for Life gives iOS users suggestions on relationships, parenting and more. This tool is now available for medical advice thanks to Palo Alto-based HealthTap, an iOS and Android app that connects users with physicians.

Despite online resources, patients rarely get answers for medical questions

Patients can seek information via the HealthTap app by asking questions, which might seem unnecessary due to the wealth of forums and help sites that are currently found online. However, Pew Internet & American Life Project data cited by HealthTap from 2010 found that the vast majority of answer seekers got no help from these sources. Over half of those who had a chronic condition did not get answers, while only between 24 and 33 percent received significant assistance. But with this app, users can ask questions privately to physicians depending on their specialty and “DocScore” rating, a model which seems to prove more efficient than a lot of online resources.

A mobile health app based on a freemium model

HealthTap addresses a real need for medical information and brings it to consumers in the most accessible form: the mobile device. While the robust free service is helpful, HealthTap has begun offering premium features available through micropayments. These features allow users to connect to a doctor of choice to ask private questions, message in real time via chat and store rich media - patients can share health records, images and documents with doctors. Follow-up questions are charged as well. The network has the added benefit for practitioners of building a transparent rating and presence on the app, and attracting new users to their local patient base. 

By Ivory King