Lame Response of the AMA to HealthTap

Many years ago, when I was a professor at Berkeley, I sought out David Freedman, a professor of statistics, for comment on an idea of mine. I knew he would dislike it — he was negative about everything — and I wondered how strong his reasons for disliking it would be. It turned out, as I expected, that he disliked it but — I was glad to see — had no convincing reasons. That was helpful, I thought.

Likewise, it is obvious that the AMA would dislike HealthTap, a website that solicits doctors’ answers to medical questions (along the lines of “I have X symptoms. What should I do?”). Here’s the AMA response:

Dr. Peter W. Carmel, president of the American Medical Association, says he is concerned about the use of online medical information, which should “complement, not replace, the communication between a patient and their physician,” he wrote in an e-mail. With online health information sites, “a medical history is not taken, a physical exam does not occur and any suggested treatment is not monitored or assessed,” he said. “Using this information in isolation could pose a threat to patients.”

These comments could have been made by someone with no medical training. Practically everything has a hypothetical downside (“could pose a threat”). Since he fails to call into question the obvious upside (patients will get questions answered much faster and cheaper), he is practically endorsing it.

3 Responses to “Lame Response of the AMA to HealthTap”

  1. tess Says:

    such a thing threatens the AMA monopoly — we can’t have that!!! patients MUST NOT have ideas of their own! what are you thinking??? ;-)

  2. Jim Purdy Says:

    HealthTap sounds very interesting, Seth. Thanks for calling attention to another great (hopefully, anyway) resource.

  3. Bennett Werner, MD Says:

    The AMA doesn’t (want to) understand that Healthtap in not proposing to “practice medicine” in its allotted 400 character answer space. It provides much needed information and there’s plenty of need for that!