In a sign that healthcare is moving to the mobile, a company called HealthTap is launching an app that offers a Quora-like experience from the cloud.

HealthTap Express allows the 89% of patients who turn to search engines instead of their local doctors for health information to do so in an objective and relatively "clinical" environment on mobile devices.


The launch is focused on the growing health & lifestyle app channel in the Apple app store and in the Android market.

The app is a Q&A platform that helps users find health information written by local physicians. The company says it has 5,000 physicians signed up for "virtual practices."

The app has one interface for doctors and a separate interface for patients. Patients can ask questions for free, and answers are delivered pretty fast, as I found out.

Warning: privacy advocates beware -- this app requires personal identity information, like name, age and location at registration.The app also asks if you want to share with Facebook, and it gives you a choice. That was good. I said no.

The app lists "trending" questions.

The questions most similar to yours scroll automatically to the top as you type. Doctors endure much in order to help the sick. One of the easier questions to print: "Can my co-workers catch my eczema?"

Many questions ask for advice about general themes: like baby care, and what to do with a fever.

I asked a purposely vague question, completely made up: "I have a rash on my foot, what is it?" A doctor, who was apparently real, provided an answer in about a minute through a push notification that sent me to the answer page.

The answer? "See a doctor." Thank you, doctor.

I asked another more serious question: "How many times should I change the gauze on my burnt hand?" No doctor had answered that question at the time of posting.

What is really interesting about this is that the catalyst for the app is the same catalyst that launched the blended learning movement in education. In order to free up time in the day, some portion of the teaching hours is devoted to online learning. This app does the same thing. The app works totally free of advertising and sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies so as to maintain trust and the feeling of objectivity.

Screenshot comes from iPhone image capture