Health IT, Patient Engagement

HealthTap goes global by seeking translation of medical content

HealthTap also is, for the first time, inviting physicians outside the U.S. to join its network of medical experts.



HealthTap has taken another step in its journey to be what the company calls the “world’s first global health practice” by adding translation services.

Wednesday, the Palo Alto, California-based company announced a volunteer-driven translation program. That also means HealthTap is, for the first time, inviting physicians outside the U.S. to join its network of medical experts.

The 103,000 doctors in the HealthTap network can communicate securely with each other on the technology platform, provide crowdsourced medical consultations and participate in online Grand Rounds and continuing medical education. Now, physicians worldwide can participate, and do so in multiple languages.

The new HealthTap Translate portal seeks physician volunteers to translate the massive amount of content already in the HealthTap knowledge library. To date, users have generated 4.8 billion answers and health tips, the company said.

“We keep getting requests from doctors all over the world,” CEO Ron Gutman said. As with English content, foreign-language material will be created by the HealthTap physician user base.

For accuracy, translations will be run through natural language processing, backed by a machine-learning engine, Gutman said. Each piece of advice then must go through a full peer-review cycle and then be approved by a native speaker of the language in question, according to Gutman.

“We are taking the largest repository of health content in the world and democratizing it,” Gutman said.

HealthTap counts users in 174 countries and physicians who collectively speak 107 languages natively.

The company will not be looking to make money off the translated material, particularly since so many health websites rely on pharmaceutical advertising. Direct-to-consumer drug advertising is illegal worldwide, with the the notable exceptions of the United States and New Zealand.

“Our business model is not supported by advertising. It never was,” Gutman said. “The library is something we are doing as a contribution to humanity.”

HealthTap generates revenue from selling use of HOPES — which stands for Health Operating System — as well as personalized medical consultations. The most recent update of HOPES added support for live video language interpretation, setting the stage for the translation effort.

Images: HealthTap