HealthTap, a 2010 Silicon Valley startup that puts people seeking medical advice in touch with doctors, has opened an Asia-Pacific hub office in Hamilton, New Zealand and hired a local general manager, Anita Hogan.
The move follows the company entering the NZ healthcare market in May 2016 when, with the Waikato District Health Board, it launched SmartHealth (www.smarthealth.org.nz) “to connect New Zealanders with hospital clinicians and healthcare professionals from smartphones, tablets and personal computers at home or on-the-go.”
HealthTap described Hogan as “an executive with an impeccable background in the IT industry leading global initiatives for Microsoft, IBM and HP.” According to her LinkedIn profile, prior to joining HealthTap in April, she was a project and programme manager with HPE in Auckland from April 2016, for the three years prior a project manager with IBM in Auckland, and for a year before that Microsoft’s EMEA cloud program manager, based in Dublin. Her LinkedIn profile gives her role at HealthTap as “product implementation manager, enterprise partnerships.”
HealthTap claims to be the world’s first global health practice. It claims a network of over 100,000 medical practitioners and says its technology allows users all over the world to tap into immediate, personalised healthcare from anywhere - in real-time.
“Busy individuals can manage their health and their families’ well-being with digital reminders, newsletters, and checklists,” it says. HealthTap also offers a “comprehensive, secure digital personal health record (PHR) that can be shared with an extended care team.”
The company says its “personal artificial intelligence-powered ‘physician’ helps route users to doctor-recommended insights and care.
According to Waikato DHB CEO, CR Nigel Murray SmartHealth is progressing well. “Thousands of Waikato DHB doctors and other clinicians are already signed up, and we are getting great feedback from our patients who are using the service," he said.
“We are bringing healthcare into the 21st century, reducing unnecessary hospital visits, saving time and money, and ultimately serving our population better.”
However HealthTap has come in for criticisms. In 2012 the New York Times carried a lengthy article detailing how the service worked and including comments from Dr Peter W Carmel, president of the American Medical Association who expressed concern about the use of online medical information, saying it should complement, not replace, the communication between a patient and their physician.
With online health information sites, “a medical history is not taken, a physical exam does not occur and any suggested treatment is not monitored or assessed,” he told the NYT. “Using this information in isolation could pose a threat to patients.”