HealthTap launches Siri-like app, hires WebMD alum

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 30, 2013        

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TalktoDocs_4HealthTap, the doctor Q&A service that has since expanded into both doctor ratings and app curation, announced its newest product, a paid, voice-activated app called Talk to Docs.

The app, which will be available on Android or iOS phones for $0.99, leverages archived answers from HealthTap’s free Q&A platform. It uses natural language processing to parse user’s health questions and search for the highest-rated relevant answer (HealthTap answers are rated by other physicians on the platform, not by users.)

“One of the things we hear is [customers] want an easier interface,” HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman told MobiHealthNews. “We have a lot of moms using HealthTap and they’re holding their baby in one hand. People with disabilities, elderly people. For all of these guys we decided to experiment with the voice interface.”

Like HealthTap’s main app, Talk toDocs will not have ads. Gutman said that the company is confident their product is something people will pay for, and Talk to Docs is the first real test of that.

“The main focus right now is really growth,” he said. “We still strongly believe in building a strong product and monetizing in a way that will be a credit to the user experience.”

Talk to Docs will also have a text interface for situations where users might not want to ask their questions out loud. Gutman stressed that the app will not replace a physician consultation, but should help users triage minor health concerns — a service that will ultimately help doctors.

“One thing we’re hearing from doctors all the time is that doctors are just repeating the same advice 15 times per day to different patients,” he said. “If you could take some of these repetitive tasks and automate them and have patients know that they can get the information on HealthTap, you have a system that’s empowering doctors to manage more patients.”

HealthTap recently created a new division, called HealthTap Labs, dedicated to innovation around the company’s product offerings. The company also recently hired WebMD’s former Chief Innovation Officer Nan-Kirsten Forte to the position of Chief Customer Officer.