Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap, joined Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and Director of SAI, David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics, Harvard School of Public Health, and students from across Harvard and nearby schools to discuss this Interactive Health start-up based in Palo Alto, California.
What is HealthTap? HealthTap provides an online platform and mobile applications for users to post medical questions anonymously and for physicians to answer to these questions. Physicians’ responses, identity, and reputation are known in order to ensure accountability and transparency; moreover, the online community rates these responses while scholars peer review them in order to create both checks and balances and competition among more than 32,000 doctors.
Building a Model. Privacy is of the utmost importance in healthcare, and thus with HealthTap, Gutman has focused on building trust and solid infrastructure rather than on media and advertising. It is also imperative for the company to set the right expectations of its services in order to ensure safety and confidentiality. Building a robust system of high quality medical knowledge also requires an engaged online community. To that point, the site offers social network components. Doctors also compete for recognition of their answers, and are rewarded by points, which bring them from the local to state to nationwide level of expertise.
HealthTap for South Asia? When asked about the company’s plans for taking the service overseas, Gutman remarked that it is of huge interest and that he was open to the audience’s thoughts. One obstacle in pushing out this model of a medical technology database based on questions and answers internationally is that medical information and practices vary from country to country, and there are major cultural and language barriers. Gutman sees HealthTap as a necessary bridge between doctors and people; bringing it to the global level would be a tremendous opportunity to expand access to quality healthcare worldwide. – Meghan Morrissey, Ed.M Candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education