What Is HealthTap?
Advertised as the world’s first global health practice, HealthTap promises to help you and your loved ones live healthier, happier, longer lives. How? By providing access to useful and trustworthy health information that allows you to learn more, get assistance, and take action.
Instead of scouring the Internet for impersonal—and potentially unreliable—information, the company claims their website and mobile app allow you to gain direct expertise from many of the world's top doctors quickly (immediate access in many instances), conveniently (bypass waiting rooms), and cost-effectively (no co-pays). This involves tools such as:
- Virtual Consults – Connect to a trusted doctor via phone, tablet, or PC.
- Ask a Question For Free – Receive a personalized answer from a U.S.-licensed doctor.
- Helpful News – Here, doctors review recent health-related news to deliver only the “highest-quality articles.”
- Explore – Access to 6.5+ billion answers already curated by HealthTap.
- Find Doctors – Locate U.S.-based doctors that can address your concerns.
- Private Health Profile – If you need a one-stop reference for you or your healthcare provider, this tool allows you to “securely store your personal health information and track your health activity in one place.”
Together, HealthTap tells us that their platform opens the door to more than 108,000 top doctors in 141 specialties for everyone, regardless of their stage of care.
But whether you’re looking for a simple answer or a complex cure, will you find the company’s services—free or paid—worthwhile? This is the primary question we'll help you answer here, starting with the user experience.
How Does HealthTap Work?
Signing up for a HealthTap account involves entering your email and password, gender, date of birth, location, and goals/topics you’re interested in (e.g., living healthier, parenting and pregnancy, growing older, managing a condition, etc.).
Afterward, you’ll be taken to your personal dashboard, where you can complete additional health profile details (ethnicity, height, weight, BMI, family history, vaccinations, lifestyle, etc.), view your goals, reach out to suggested doctors in your area, upload files and documents, and even add profiles for people you care for.
If you’d like to reach out to a doctor on a general level, you can ask a question for HealthTap’s 108K+ healthcare professionals to answer. For more personalized service, you can click on the Ask Docs link on your dashboard, where you’ll enter:
- Your current conditions, medications, and allergies
- The part of body where you’re experiencing a problem
- Further description of the issue (e.g., leg pain, knee pain, difficulty walking, leg swelling/numbness, arthritis, etc.)
Then, you can manually add symptoms and click ‘create report’ when you’re finished.
Based on the ‘diagnosis’ provided in the report, HealthTap will display a variety of care options, including the ability to consult with a doctor virtually (brings up available doctors and their pricing; more next), or visit a doctor’s office by searching for HealthTap member doctors in your area.
Using your HealthTap Dashboard, you can receive care recommendations based on your symptoms, ask questions for doctors to answer, or reach out to a healthcare professional via text, chat, or video. Image credit: HealthTap, Inc.
You’ll also be able to read personalized “doctor answers, tips, news, and medication reviews,” or download “helpful checklists and reminders from top doctors on steps you can take to feel good faster.”
According to the HealthTap website, all of this is powered by the company’s Health Operating System (HOPESTM), which utilizes proprietary health graph and data modeling, language processing, artificial intelligence (machine learning), and algorithms to generate Personal Health Records (PHR).
Their Dr. AI technology then “routes or "triages" users to the right level of care at the right time,” whether this involves getting an answer from HealthTap’s knowledge library, speaking with one of their doctors, or making an appointment locally.
But does every customer have access to the same level of service?
HealthTap Free vs. Prime vs. Concierge
With HealthTap’s free membership, users will be able to pose anonymous health questions to the company’s Medical Expert Network, explore their health information library, receive health-related tips, and utilize checklists to reach health and wellness goals.
They can also manage, update, and securely store your personal health information and records, and locate doctors in their area who can provide additional assistance.
In addition to these tools, HealthTap Prime subscribers can attend Virtual Consults with certified primary-care physicians via PC or a mobile device, and obtain prescriptions, referrals, and lab orders. You’ll also receive priority access to doctor’s answers, be guaranteed to receive answers to your question(s) from more than one doctor, and add details to any questions you post.
Finally, Concierge is HealthTap’s highest membership level. Here, subscribers will be able to attend Virtual Consults with the physician of their choice, potentially creating a deeper, more personal relationship, according to the company’s website.
Can HealthTap Fill Prescriptions?
If you’re a HealthTap Prime or Concierge member, you can receive prescriptions after attending a Virtual Consult. According to the website’s FAQ, “Once your prescription has been transmitted to your preferred pharmacy (if you entered one in your profile), you will receive an email notification.”
However, it’s important to emphasize that prescriptions cannot be filled for DEA I-IV scheduled substances, or lifestyle, psychiatric, or state-regulated medications.
Is There Any Difference With HealthTap’s App?
HealthTap’s iOS and Android apps don’t appear to offer any additional functionality compared to their website. However, it does provide on-the-go access to all of the same core features, with much of the same feel and user experience.
These include immediate answers from more than 100K doctors, access to more than 6.2 billion previously-answered questions in their database, and the ability to text chat or virtually consult with doctors for “advice, treatment, prescriptions, referrals, lab tests or a second opinion.”
HealthTap's iOS and Android app offer much of the same user experience and functionality of the website, including the ability to attend Virtual Consults, read answered questions, and add queries of your own. Image credit: HealthTap, Inc.
How Much Does a HealthTap Membership Cost?
A basic HealthTap membership is free, although users can pay on an a la carte basis to receive priority access to answers from doctors ($9.99 each), receive more than one answer to a question ($9.99 each), or add details (100 additional characters) to an existing question ($9.99 each).
Prime membership is priced at $99 per month, with the ability add additional family members for $10 extra per month, each. Concierge Virtual Consults are priced as low as $44 each for Prime subscribers ($49 otherwise)
What if you’re not happy with HealthTap’s services? The company offers a satisfaction guarantee on any individual video, voice, or text chat consult, although you’re required to “submit a documented explanation supporting your request for a refund.” Subscriptions are only eligible for refunds related to the most recent billing period.
In order to request a refund or ask additional questions, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Are HealthTap Members Saying in Their Reviews?
The vast majority of online customer feedback we encountered during our research for HealthTap was on iTunes and Google Play, where more than 17,000 combined reviewers had given the app an average rating of about 4.4 stars.
Common compliments related to ease of use, quick access to doctor-backed information, helpful physicians, and competitive prices. On the other hand, complaints (what relatively few they were) frequently referenced bugginess, generic answers, and high prices for what you get.
We also encountered 32 customer reviews on Amazon for HealthTap, where it had a lower average rating of 2.8 stars, with many of the same compliments and complaints noted above.
From a physician’s perspective, The Skeptical Cardiologist’s Dr. Anthony P. wrote back in 2015:
“Over the Thanksgiving break, I signed up to become a HealthTap doctor. I've been evaluating it since then and have found it to be an extremely annoying and tiresome program which utilizes high-pressure marketing schemes and motivational techniques that are reminiscent of a video game.”
“This particular style of telemedicine to me is terrible medicine,” he concludes.
As a company, HealthTap is based out of Palo Alto, CA and was founded in 2010 by Ron Gutman, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. They held a C+ Better Business Bureau rating, based on six reviews and 15 closed complaints, as of 10/27/17. There, most related to being unexpectedly charged following trials.
Are There Other Telemedicine Companies Like HealthTap?
Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review reports that, according to a 2016 Jackson Healthcare survey, there are expected to be more than seven million telemedicine patient users by 2018, with a total market value of more than $36.2 billion by 2020.
In other words, a great deal of growth is occurring in this industry, and a lot of companies are entering the marketplace to meet the expected demand.
In fact, even Medicaid views telemedicine “as a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing medical care (e.g., face-to-face consultations or examinations between provider and patient),” and covers related services in many instances.
The following are some of HealthTap’s biggest competitors (chosen at random based on Google search results), all of which are available in most states or throughout the U.S. and offer the ability to speak with a doctor via phone, text, chat, and/or video:
|Company||Price||Special Features & Services|
|HealthTap||Free – $99/mo (a la carte services also available)||Three different membership options available, large database of answered questions, access to 100K+ doctors|
|MDLive||Free to start; varies thereafter||Private and secure consultations, can also address behavioral health|
|Teladoc||$49 or less for consults||20 million members (with 95% satisfaction), 3,100+ licensed physicians, dermatologists, and therapists with 20 years’ experience on average|
|MeMD||$57.95 per consult, with no hidden fees||Access to a licensed healthcare provider in your state|
|Doctor on Demand||$75 - $229, depending on service and length of time||Includes urgent care, covered by several insurance carriers (including United, BlueCross BlueShield, Humana), 1 million registered users|
While some (such as Doctor on Demand) specify that they can address many urgent health concerns, they all emphasize they’re only appropriate for non-emergency medical conditions. Also, that they’re not intended to replace your physician or other health specialists.
Specifically related to HealthTap, their terms note that they don’t provide a “formal medical diagnosis, treatment, or prescription,” and that any communication provided is “intended to be for general informational purposes only.”
With this in mind, telemedicine could potentially work for anyone who’s not critically ill, but can’t make it to the doctor. And as we can see from the brief examples above, the largest differences between many of them are their prices, as well as the number of licensed healthcare professionals they provide access to.
Outside of these factors, you’ll also want to focus on companies who provide high member satisfaction rates, as evidenced by online customer feedback. Make sure that anyone you’re considering offers a straightforward refund policy, too, without any hoops to jump through or associated penalty fees.
Our Final Thoughts About HealthTap
HealthTap has been in business for quite some time and seems to come with mostly positive online feedback from members. They also back their memberships and individual Virtual Consults with satisfaction guarantees, so you might not have to pay for any services you’re not satisfied with.
Comparatively, though, HealthTap members are required to pay a monthly fee for video access, which could cost more than a couple of sessions with several of the non-membership competitors. In this regard, the value here largely seems to be in how often you plan to use your new telemedicine service. Also, whether or not you plan to pay with health insurance.
In the end, it seems you might not have much more to lose than a few minutes of time by giving HealthTap—or many other telemedicine competitors, for that matter—a try to see if their services fit your specific needs and preferences.
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