HealthTap announced yesterday that it was launching virtual consult services for patients, with live medical translation services in 21 languages.

Virtual care has taken off in the past few years. Two virtual doctor-on-demand services, Teladoc and Doctors on Demand, had pretty successful years last year, hinting at the growing interest in this service. Others, like the folks at the University of Southern California, have explored using artificial intelligence for virtual health consults.

HealthTap started as a common space for clinicians and patients, where patients could ask questions and get answers from real physicians and other healthcare professionals. While initially those answers were more generic, HealthTap soon broadened to a more traditional doctor-on-demand consultation service.

Yesterday, they announced a group consultation feature in the virtual consultation platform, HOPES, that will let multiple people join on to a virtual visit. And that will include translators in 21 languages: Spanish, Cantonese (Chinese), Mandarin (Chinese), French, American Sign Language, Vietnamese, Korean, Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Haitian Creole, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Cambodian, Burmese, Nepali, Amharic, Somali, Tigrinya and Urdu.

The group consult feature is interesting in its own right, helping potentially engage caregivers and others in a patient’s support system. While likely less effective in these one-time consultations, compared to a longitudinal patient-physician relationship, any opportunity to better engage a patient’s support system is worth taking advantage of.

To use language translation services, patients can schedule appointments and just specify the language they need. This feature could go a long way in making these virtual doctor visits more accessible both in the United States and internationally.

And as more patients use these kinds of services, hopefully we’ll see HealthTap and others make similar investments in improving communication with longitudinal clinicians too.

Source: HealthTap Press Release