HealthTap to certify docs in ‘virtual care’

The online certification program is aimed at bringing best practices to virtual care. It’s free and eligible for continuing medical education credits.

Graduation medical school

HealthTap, which bills itself as the “world’s first global health practice,” will be offering training and certification in “virtual care,” the Palo Alto, California-based company announced Thursday. The online program is free and eligible for continuing medical education credits.

The certification program is aimed at bringing best practices to virtual care. HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman said that there still is a lack of scientific rigor in this area, which he sees as being much broader than telemedicine.

“There’s a lot of interest in the physician community,” said HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman. “But there’s a lot of confusion” about how to practice medicine in a virtual environment.

“Thousands of doctors are calling us, e-mailing us, contacting us from all over the world asking us for advice,” Gutman said by phone while traveling in Helsinki, Finland. “Every single day, we are learning new things about virtual care.”

Gutman said that his company is stepping into the void because no traditional educators had offered such training. “I am surprised to see nobody else has picked this up from an educational perspective,” Gutman said. “If nobody else picks this up, we have to pick it up.”

HealthTap worked with academicians in its network of more than 100,000 physicians to develop the course material, according to Gutman. The curriculum grew out of a “playbook for internal consumption” that HealthTap has built over the last six years, he said.

“We can hold it to ourselves or we could share it with the world,” Gutman explained. He said he believes that healthcare is a human right, and, as such, he feels obligated to help advance the field of virtual care.

HealthTap launched in 2011 as a service to answer medical questions over the Internet. It has since branched out into telehealth, basic physician ratings, employer wellness, lab test referrals and broader patient engagement.

“We really have become artisans in providing virtual care,” Gutman said, “not just putting Skype in a wrapper.” He wants physicians inside and outside the HealthTap network to follow that pattern.