Since launching in 2010, HealthTap has been on a mission to bring the proverbial “house call” back to healthcare — virtually speaking, of course. With more than 80 percent of people turning to online resources (and to Dr. Google) for health-related information — from insurance to basic diagnostics — HealthTap set out to give people a better alternative to using Google or WebMD for their health queries.
Capitalizing the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices, HealthTap created an interactive mobile health network and Q&A platform to allow everyday people to connect with one of its 38K licensed physicians in realtime, via their smartphone or the Web. Over the last year, the startup has proven that there’s ample demand for a “Quora for doctors”-type service, with the founder telling us last month that the site is now serving over 7.5 million unique visitors every month, and more than 10 million questions have been answered on its platform to date.
In turn, HealthTap has served over 581 million answers to those seeking health device and, as of March, Gutman said, over 3K people had sent thank-you notes to HealthTap, saying that these doctor answers had saved their lives. While this may sound a little too saccharine to be true, doctors and hypochondriacs aren’t the only ones drinking the Kool-Aid.
Based on its recent traction, along with the growing potential of virtual health information networks, the startup announced this morning that it has secured $24 million in series B financing. The majority of the capital, the founder told us this week, came from its new lead investor, Khosla Ventures and, specifically, was led by its newest partner: Keith Rabois, the former COO of Square and early exec at Slide, LinkedIn and PayPal, among others.
The round marks Rabois’ first investment since joining Khosla Ventures in February and sees the new partner taking a seat on HealthTap’s board of directors. As further testament to the firm’s interest in its latest investment, Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla, who has become an active HealthTech investor over the past few years, will be officially joining HealthTap as a member of its advisory board.
With contributions from HealthTap’s existing investors, like The Mayfield Fund and Mohr Davidow Ventures, the new round brings the company’s total funding to $37.9 million, which Gutman says the company will use to hire “top talent”, expand its web and mobile offerings, and accelerate growth.
The new capital will also allow HealthTap to begin taking steps to open the significant amount of health data the platform has collected over the past two years to third-parties — be they startups looking to build new tools and applications around healthcare, or healthcare players themselves. The startup has also yet to begin monetizing in any significant way, and Gutman sees these potential partnerships and integrations as the best way to begin generating revenue.
“The real question we want to answer going forward,” the founder says, “is how do we best tackle healthcare and health data in a post-Obamacare world?” With healthcare, insurance, brokers and all manners of health information moving online, the system is going to be hard pressed to handle the increase in demand. The goal is to put HealthTap in a position to be the de facto triaging system once Obamacare really kicks in, Gutman continued.
Over the last few months, the startup has been steadily moving in that direction. HealthTap’s platform provides health information primarily through its Q&A functionality which now connects users to a network of more than 38,000 registered doctors, offering a potentially more efficient and cheaper alternative to seeing a doctor face-to-face.
For doctors who join HealthTap, the platform provides tools to build an online and real-world reputation — the usual draw for those contributing to a Q&A site — and the potential to attract new patients while also improving the quality of health information online, which is noble in itself.
HealthTap claims that the new financing represents “one of the most substantial series B investments to date in the digital health industry”, and that the company has grown “rapidly over the past year, nearly quadrupling the number of doctors in its network, and serving tens of millions of people worldwide via its web and mobile apps.”
Testimony to this, the founder told us in March that doctors are now spending an average of over one hour per session (61.2 minutes to be precise) each time they log in — not only to answer questions, but to engage in peer reviews of other doctors’ answers, to build referral networks and vote on one another’s expertise.
Of course, HealthTap is far from being the first to go after these concepts — something that Doximity, QuantiaMD and a growing number of health startups will be quick to remind you. For the moment, HealthTap seems to have taken the lead, at least as far as investors are concerned; however, there’s a long way to go and much flux to come with Obamacare looming on the horizon.