“On the internet,” says Ron Gutman, “every headache becomes a brain tumor in four clicks or less.”
For Gutman and his colleagues in the world of health tech, this has become a running joke, a cheeky nod to just how far the human imagination can wander after a quick search of benign symptoms. But there’s more than a little truth to it. The fact is: the sheer abundance of health information online makes consulting Dr. Google an altogether flawed—and at times terrifying—first step toward getting better.
So, in 2010, Gutman launched HealthTap, an online service that makes it just as easy to get answers to your health questions from a real, trusted doctor. The company started as a kind of beefed-up question-and-answer site, where users can get free responses to their medical queries from thousands of peer-reviewed doctors, and it grew exponentially, serving over 100 million people with some 1.9 billion doctor answers after just a few years.
Now, Gutman is taking things one step further. On Wednesday, his company announced the launch of HealthTap Prime, a new service that gives subscribers unlimited access to live videoconferences with actual doctors for $99 a month, plus $10 for every additional family member.
With Prime, HealthTap is feeding the rapidly growing demand for telemedicine services. According to the research firm IHS, revenue from companies entering this space is expected to grow to $1.9 billion in 2018, a huge leap from the $240 million the industry made in 2013. That’s driven in part by the Affordable Care Act, which champions the use of telehealth technologies in an effort to drive down Medicare and Medicaid costs and improve patient outcomes.
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