Earlier this year, Google added a new health results feature to its search function so that whenever users type in symptoms, the search engine generates a list of possibly related health conditions. The results are generated by an algorithm that analyzes data from all kinds of Web pages.
That’s all fine and good, but with more patients turning to the Web for health information, and with the innovation that’s happening in digital health and big data, we can do better.
Here are four up-and-coming companies hoping to make it easier for patients to get valuable health information online.
Clear.md: Healthcare providers create and post videos about health topics from basic information that will help patients better understand a condition to how they should prepare for a procedure. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is beta testing the platform.
Symcat (AHEAD Research): Developed by two medical school students, Symcat leverages public data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to deliver a list of conditions that could be afflicting users based on the symptoms, health history and demographic information they enter. In the near future, the company plans to release an iPhone app and continue building out Symcat’s capabilities to make it more useful in tracking health over longer periods of time and to add features including what treatments have worked for people with similar profiles.
HealthTap: HealthTap’s network of physicians (who must all be licensed and in good standing) answer users’ questions online or through a smartphone app. Prescriptions, diagnosis and treatment are not available on HealthTap, but it’s a good place to start with general questions.
Meddik: By first converting natural language into medical terminology, this tool calculates a clinical similarity index between a user and all of Meddik’s other users to build a social health network and stream of content around other, similar users.