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12/12/2012
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HealthTap, Avvo Marriage Gives Consumers More Online Docs

HealthTap site now offers network of 30,000 doctors, including specialists, to answer consumer questions.

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Health education site HealthTap recently announced the acquisition of Q&A site Avvo Health. The acquisition is the first for HealthTap, which allows users to post anonymous questions to a network of doctors or send SMS text messages to a doctor for a fee. With the adoption of Avvo Health, HealthTap now offers users access to more than 30,000 doctors and is "expanding its reach to [more than] 128 specialties," according to an Avvo press release.

The acquisition nearly doubles the number of doctors available to consumers through the HealthTap site, and its database now includes more than a million medical professionals. The acquisition aims to also provide users with a database of local physicians, even if they don't have specific questions to ask doctors on the site. This shift is allowing HealthTap to better compete with sites such as HealthGrades and ZocDoc, because HealthTap is also expanding into doctor rankings and reviews to better help consumers find a physician who best meets their needs.

[ To see how patient engagement can help transform medical care, check out 5 Healthcare Tools To Boost Patient Involvement. ]

"Avvo has done great work building an expert network and patient communities with quality content, ratings and reviews. We're pleased to make their health business our first acquisition," said Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap, in the release. On the HealthTap site, Gutman said, users get immediate access to both U.S. doctors and dentists to answer health questions, and they can access the site and the HealthTap app from their smartphone, tablet, or a PC.

"We are excited to welcome … leading doctors and dentists from Avvo to HealthTap's Medical Expert Network, as well as to add … doctors and millions of new pieces of useful information to our extensive directory," Gutman said. "On HealthTap, doctors will discover a rapidly growing community of potential patients across the country, as well a fast growing network of peers for referrals."

In an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare, Josh King, general counsel at Avvo, said Avvo was founded in 2007 strictly as a legal site, but in late 2010, it expanded into healthcare. Avvo quickly added doctors and dentists and developed a consumer-facing Q&A portion of the site. Users of Avvo Health also had access to a client rating system.

"We found that within a few years, healthcare continued to grow …. [M]edical is a massive market, but it's a massively complex market. It's hard to do it justice when you don't have exclusive attention on the market. With those dynamics in play, we made the decision to focus 100% on legal."

King said when looking for a partner for their healthcare business, Avvo viewed HealthTap as having an innovative approach to connecting doctors and patients. "They have a great directory," he said.

Avvo Health talked to a number of companies, King said, and HealthTap seemed like a "natural partner… In HealthTap, you have a business that's trying to accomplish a lot of the same things we were in Avvo Health. Folks over there have been involved in healthcare for a long time. This brings in a lot of expertise and puts the focus on creating a robust directory for getting questions answered, etc."

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jaysimmons
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jaysimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/15/2012 | 8:34:45 PM
re: HealthTap, Avvo Marriage Gives Consumers More Online Docs
Interesting article. It's nice to see doctors sign up for a network like this and be available for questions. Hopefully this will minimize patients self-diagnosing themselves through web searches and ask questions to qualified physicians instead to receive better information.

Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
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