Social Network Medicine is a Bad Idea
HealthTap is a start-up based in Palo Alto, Calif (where all good start-ups are born) and consumers can post health questions that are answered by physicians who log on. After this free medical advice is given, the readers can click the agree or thank button and the most popular doctors get a "Doogie Howser Award" or a "Dr. Healthcliff Huxtable Award." Just writing this makes me feel so cheap!
What is the point of all of this? I am not really sure. There are social network features on the site and maybe they will develop games and quizzes. There are phone numbers and maps so you can make appointments with physicians...an d of course lots of health advertising. HealthTap doesn't list the physicians specialty but the doctor can accumulate a "reputation level" depending upon the number of awards and "agrees" they get from other activities. It is really corny.
The only requirement for a physician to participate (I can't imagine any busy qualified physician participating!) is that he/she has a license in the U.S. HealthTap answers are limited to 400 characters so it is a bit like twitter advice from a stranger who may or may not have knowledge about a topic.
I don't know if this new site (mobile app available too) will catch on or not. There does seem to be an insatiable need for medical knowledge and people do like to ask health questions and get answers for free. The problem is that credible information doesn't come in 400 character sound bites from people who just happen to have a medical degree.
I love the idea of sharing knowledge on the internet but I'm not interested in a Doogie Howser award, especially since he was a 14 year old and not even real.