HealthTap Launches RateRx, A Physician-Reviewed Drug Library


For the last decade, the Internet has taken on the role of doctor, nurse, and fitness coach in increasingly more compelling and prevalent ways. Early on, WebMD controlled both the market share and the mind share of consumers researching symptoms and conditions, but doctors pushed back against the unreliable nature of the information the site was publishing. As a result, a flood of startups have moved into the space, working to bring more reliable medical data to the Internet. WebMD is working at the forefront of this problem, alongside Google, which will start serving up clinically validated search results when users search for symptoms; and a number of patient portal vendors, which are partnering with care providers to bring reliable research tools to the Internet.

HealthTap, a California-based digital health startup that launched in 2010,  is also working in this space. Initially, HealthTap launched under the premise of building a free Q&A site where consumers could post questions anonymously and doctors could answer them. The Q&A model worked and the site went on to attract thousands of doctors, who typically answer submitted questions within 24 hours. Often, questions are answered by multiple doctors from varying specialties, providing a level of clinical consideration and consensus unavailable through other online research platforms.

Over time, the site has expanded the breadth of its services. Not long after launching its Q&A platform, HealthTap noted that the mobile app marketplace was ballooning with clinically unproven apps claiming to help with a broad range of unlikely ailments. HealthTap responded by building an app recommendations platform where HealthTap’s specialists could vote on which apps they had the highest opinion of for managing certain chronic conditions.

Now, with both services up and running, HealthTap is turning to medications. CEO Ron Gutman says that there are no Yelp-like websites for physicians to independently review medications; “More than 50 percent of people in this country consume prescription drugs during any given month, but medication is pretty much a black box if you want to do research." To address this problem, HealthTap has turned to its network of specialists, as it did with its App rating platform, and is asking them to rate how well each drug addresses a specific condition. Next, the company built a front end that allows patients to search by condition or medication to see which meds doctors prefer for treating depression, blood pressure, or any other diseases.

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