The last couple of months, quite a large number of medical/ health start-ups have emerged. These sites are not without controversy. The following conversation about ZocDoc, covered by my co-editor Boris at TechCrunch 40, says it all:
Guy Kawasaki, who was one of the members of the jury, said ‘I just don’t see it. You search this site and you’re like, “Oh look, Dr. Molly Adams, she looks nice, I’ll ask her to operate on my heart.”‘. While the audience laughed ZocDoc founder Massoumi cleared his throat, grabbed the microphone and replied ‘You might ask your friend for an optometrist recommendation, but you might not ask them for someone who could diagnose the rash on your butt.”.
Massoumi could be right when he thinks health sites will be successful. Since even Google launched its own version in February, called Google Health. You can store and manage all your medical information on this site (This freaks me out by the way, what if Google suspends my account or something like that?).
Several start-ups profit from this move by Google. Like San-Francisco based MEDgle, a site where you can search through 10,000 symptoms and more than 2000 diagnoses. Just click the body part that’s bothering you and start browsing away to find a solution. MEDgle founder Ash Damle explains how Google Health helps them: “Google Health is a good opportunity for us. MEDgle was designed to be able to run on top of medical health records. Google Health now provides a platform for this. They have the data, we can make it actionable and relevant to the user.”
So the self-funded start-ups basically puts an accessible layer over the Google Health data. Users select the body part and the symptom, and then specify their gender and age. After hitting the search button, a page with a short description about the symptom and external links appear. A nice touch to this page is that users can rate those external links.
There seems to be a rather large demand for medical search engines like MEDgle. A recent study by Comscore showed that 60% of women looking for information about birth control turn to the Internet. Damle notices the demand when looking at the MEDgle traffic: “We opened the doors in June of last year. Last month we had around 500K page views. All the traffic has been organic to date.”