It hasn’t been long ago that we’ve internally discussed the viability of a health-focused version of Quora, the hyped Silicon Valley based Q&A startup founded by two former Facebook engineers.
For our readers who are not familiar with Quora, let us give you a quick background. The site aims to be not just another Q&A site like Answers.com or Yahoo! Answers, but a worldwide repository of genre-specific answers to any sort of question. The startup has a strong focus on user interface and the quality of the content. Starting from punctuation to capitalization and content of questions and corresponding answers – all is closely being watched and edited by a dedicated team of community and/or quality assurance managers.
Apart from its initial hype, the principle is working in the field of technology, startups and investing. Through the founders fame and a whopping amount of funding, they’ve attracted CEOs, famous founders and tech celebs that are not only passively using the service, but are also adding their answers – that’s something new.
Now- meet healthysparx, which aims to bring the Q&A model to medicine. Admittedly we can’t think of many more fields of work, aside from medicine, where such an approach is more suitable. Every doctor-patient-interaction is primarly based on a set of questions and the patients answers. As a doctor you are constantly, be it in your office or out of your office, confronated with questions of worrying friends and potential patients. “Can you have a look at that mole?”, “How much alcohohl can I drink per day?” – you name it. Clearly there are already doctors on Quora, such as Doctor 2.0 Howard Luks, answering questions and Quora could potentially shift it’s model entirely to medicine, althought it’s highly unlikely since they want to cover all aspects of life.
Now imagine a website that has the answers to these questions. Surely such sites exist but for replicating the Quora model one major thing has to be achieved. The afore mentioned CEOs, celebs and founders need to be on it. If “famous phycisians“, such as Eugene Braunwald, answers a question about blood pressure then it surely has a different significance as if it was answered by by a layperson. As with Quora, healthsparx needs to attract such widely acclaimed invidiuals in orders to succeed. Another aspect that both startups have in common is the question of monetization. How is Quora or Healthysparx is acutally going to earn money if Wikipedia surely wouldn’t have suceeded if it wasn’t based on donations. We are happy for your suggestions and input. Maybe somebody from Quora or Healthysparx is actually reading this post and wants to let us know more in the comments.
It’s easier to get the CEO of a tech startup itself on the web and answer specific questions, compared to a 70+ year old superstar physician, that’s for sure. But the basic idea of a repository of medical answers and questions, curated and edited by physicians is striking. Although such a service would entail constant managemenet of the content and continous quality assurance, the relevance for the public of such a service cannot be denied.
Healthysparx seems to be a good first step into the right direction, yet there ought to be a critical mass of specialized physicians actively using the service to really add value for the patient and medical information seekers on the web.