StartUpdates: 1000memories Introduces Shoebox App, Animoto Makes Video Creation Easier, HealthTap Taps 5,000 Physicians

10/31/11Follow @wroush

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pick a style for your video, upload the photos and videos to Animoto’s cloud servers, choose some background music, add captions, and click “Produce Video.” But for those who want to get a little more hands-on, there are a lot of customization options along the way. To my mind, Animoto’s secret is that they’ve built a nearly full-fledged video editing suite—it’s just that it lives on the Web and is designed to work virtually automatically for people who just want to click and go.

“The magic of Animoto has always been the ability for anyone to quickly create extraordinary videos through a simple, intuitive interface that doesn’t feel like an editing tool,” CEO Brad Jefferson said in a news release earlier this month. “Our all-new creation flow is a huge leap forward in simplicity and provides the framework for us to innovate on our vision faster.”

HealthTap Ramps Up Physician Population, Expands to 82 Medical Specialties, Release Mobile App

Back in April, when I covered the initial rollout of Palo Alto, CA-based HealthTap, the health-advice startup offered reference information and physicians’ advice in just two areas—pregnancy and early childhood—and it had roughly 550 physicians in its network, each one available to answer users’ health questions. By the time I checked in with HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman this fall, the operation had grown enormously. As of late September HealthTap had recruited 5,000 physicians, spanning 82 fields from cardiology to oncology to (believe it or not) space medicine. So if you’re a former astronaut wondering about how to treat your bone-density problem, you might be able to find some useful data on the site.

HealthTap isn’t a vast online medical encyclopedia in the mold of WebMD. Instead, Gutman has coined a new word for its model: “trustsourcing.” Each doctor who joins HealthTap has to be a licensed U.S. physician, and the startup checks their medical licenses and makes sure they’re in good standing with their professional associations. Their role on the site is to write short (400 words or less) answers to specialized questions coming in from members, such as “Can forced-air heaters trigger allergies? Or “Is there a stronger medicine than Percocet for my fibromyalgia?” (The doctors answering that last question agreed that opiates like Percocet actually make fibromyalgia worse.)

With more than 60,000 answers now available to browse, HealthTap has become an extremely sticky site, Gutman says, with users spending an average of 19 minutes per visit—an engagement level that’s up in the Facebook-level stratosphere. There are physicians in HealthTap’s network from all 50 states, and more join the service every day as the result of word-of-mouth referrals from their colleagues.

The motivation for doctors? “There is no place right now for physicians to display their knowledge and wisdom, which is the one big asset they have,” Gutman says. “We’re making that visible to consumers and other physicians, which not only drives new patients to their practices but referrals.” Another benefit, Gutman says, is that doctors can use their own archive of answered questions on HealthTap as a kind of “virtual practice” where they can send their own patients for background reading on health conditions and treatments.

About a month ago, HealthTap introduced a mobile app that lets users ask questions and find answers from their iPhones and Android devices. “I think that most of our usage will be on mobile in the future,” Gutman says. “Health happens on the go—it doesn’t happen when you are in front of a computer.” One unique feature of the mobile app is that it shows answers from local physicians first—the assumption being that people using their smartphone to research a health question are more likely to be in search of a connection with a nearby provider. “Now that we have such a large network of physicians, not only are you getting the right answer, but the answer is coming from a physician who may practice next to where you live,” says Gutman.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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