You wake up with a stuffy nose, aching tummy, and realize you probably have that stomach bug that’s been running rampant across campus or in your workplace. After putting up with your illness for a few days, you finally break down and decide you need to see a doctor…which absolutely sucks. Luckily, there’s a new way to diagnose yourself, and it’s called HealthTap.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially announced that Facebook Messenger will now sport an incredible feature: the ability to ask health questions right in the app. Within the past few years, Messenger has updated itself to be possibly one of the dopest apps out there – we can order Burger King, chat with friends, or even play games. But this multifaceted app is embracing the idea of a “chat-bot” platform in order to provide health, lifestyle and medical information or advice to people with just a quick conversation.
HealthTap, a Palo Alto telemedicine startup, is developing an app within Facebook Messenger that will be able to accept all health-related questions and offer educated and fact-checked answers.
Users can decide whether HealthTap retrieves its answers instantly from their online database, or within 24 hours from one of 100,000 physicians in 141 specialties. Ron Gutman, HealthTap founder and CEO, explained in an interview with BuzzFeed how the addition of HealthTap to Messenger, “…enables [the company] to extend the ability of [their] dedicated and generous doctors to help people everywhere feel good.”
The best part? The entire conversation takes place right on the Messenger app, so you won’t need to flip between different tabs to get an answer. The goal is to make this a one-stop-shop; both convenient and easily accessible.
The setup comes with caveats. This is intended to be an educational app, not a replacement for a doctor’s visit. Questions such as “Can I drink alcohol while taking ibuprofen?” and “Is it OK to eat ____ if I’m expecting?” would work perfectly with Messenger.
This Q&A service is free on HealthTap’s app, whereas the premium service, which lets you know why your stomach hurts, why your headache won’t go away, and if you have a sinus infection, costs $99 a month. The premium service even allows you to video chat with doctors.
This is a game-changer for college students. Instead of waiting hours at the annoying health clinic that never even prescribes the proper cold medicine and offers dubious information about your flu, HealthTap might be the way to go. Bonus points – you’ll also get to avoid calling your parents, who might start scheduling appointments and checking in every hour or so.
This app is only available for Facebook users, since Messenger is needed to access it. Yet with over 1 billion Facebook users to date, the app is projected to have an abundance of traffic. Since being founded in 2010, HealthTap has already helped countless numbers of people worldwide, and its partnership with Facebook will surely expand those figures.