Amid Birth Control and Breastfeeding News, Two Startups Aim to Educate Women

By Whitney Phaneuf , written on August 3, 2012

From The News Desk

Two startups are targeting women as early users of their social health and wellness platforms, and with recent changes and controversy in women's health initiatives, they could not have emerged at a better time.

HealthTap launched last year, and ChickRx just launched in July with Q&A platforms for patients seeking credible health information. It's been a busy week for both sites: Under a new health law, insurance companies are now required to cover women's preventive care at no upfront cost, including birth control, and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Latch On NYC, which requires hospitals to limit access to infant formula, is getting women talking about breastfeeding.

"Twenty five percent of doctor visits are just questions and answers," says HealthTap's CEO Ron Gutman. While HealthTap is working to broaden its audience, ChickRx wants to answer those questions specifically for women.

ChickRx has been called “WebMD for women" and its a far less clinical version of the health reference site. At the heart of ChickRx is a community of women asking questions about what matters to them most, from breast cancer to weight loss, with articles and ecommerce folded in. Being new, there is a smaller number of available doctors and experts, about 200 at its launch.

HealthTap recognized a similar opportunity to disrupt WebMD. Gutman says he was inspired to start the company after reading a Pew study that revealed about half of people seeking health information online found "no help" at all. To ensure its information and advice is credible, HealthTap screens participating doctors through an application process. Women remain the majority of HealthTap's users, but the site has since expanded its available experts to 13,000 doctors in 115 specialities.

"We decided to launch the platform with OB/GYNs and pediatricians, targeting pregnant women and moms. Women are the Chief Medical Officers of the family from taking care of the kids to her own parents," says Gutman.

More than a year ahead of ChickRx, HealthTap recently launched apps for iPhone, Android, and iPad. ChickRx has raised $550,000 in seed funding and says it also plans to launch mobile products. With Obamacare promising major changes to healthcare, these new consumer Web companies could gain traction as the go-to for quick, accurate information.