Monday, January 29, 2007

Health 2.0: Industry experts weigh in on Revolution Health

Health 2.0: Industry experts weigh in on Revolution Health

Courtesy of ePharm5TM
Researching and reporting pharma business and marketing innovation
© 2006, HCPro, Inc.

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On the same day that Revolution Health made its big splash, WebMD also announced its next-generation health information portal, which includes free access to the WebMD PHR and expanded sponsorship opportunities. According to Wayne Gattinella, president and CEO of WebMD, the new portal will deliver a more personalized experience that will benefit not only consumers, but also advertisers. Although the site is now in preview mode, Gattinella tells ePharm5 that it will officially launch within 30 days.

Last week’s launch of Revolution Health’s free Web portal and a suite of paid membership telephonic services are just two of the many products expected from Revolution Health Group. Revolution Health Group President and COO Jay Silverstein was typically cryptic when discussing the formal launch with ePharm5, saying only that it is several months from now. Indeed, the Web portal that launched last week, RevolutionHealth.com, is still in preview mode, a fact that Gattinella pointed out when we talked with him. Overall, Gattinella seemed unimpressed.

“It isn’t terribly unique,” Gattinella told ePharm5. He said although Revolution Health has a lot of great positioning, its content isn’t anything consumers can’t find on other Internet sites. He pointed out that WebMD’s strength comes from its more than 200 experts who publish information that consumers can’t get anywhere else.

“We’ve been at this for 10 years,” Gattinella said, adding that WebMD has built its reputation “the old-fashioned way.”

To Gattinella’s point, the site’s health content is similar to that of many others, with information about conditions and treatments and content from partners including Harvard Health Publications, Cleveland Clinic, and MayoClinic.com. However, Revolution Health aims to set itself apart through connectivity. Silverstein calls this "Health 2.0," saying it's an attempt to bring connectivity, transparency, and the ability to take action to healthcare.

Manhattan Research President Mark Bard agrees that the difference between Revolution Health and many other large content sites is the connectivity angle they are pursuing. He tells ePharm5 that as e-health evolves, there will continue to be more investment--and competition--in “Health 2.0.” He says that this connection and focus on community will bring additional value to health content and ultimately bring value back to the consumer using the sites.

Bard also points to the community aspect of sites like Revolution Health as an exciting area to watch, especially the function that allows users to rate their care. “Ratings are a huge opportunity in healthcare,” Bard says, adding that currently, there aren’t many great data sources available for choosing hospitals or doctors based on factors beyond their physical location. He says the challenge has been getting enough data to really facilitate decision making. “That changes when sites can aggregate hundreds of thousands of user experiences and then deliver that information in easy-to-use displays, scales, and interfaces that allow consumers to compare various treatment and therapeutic options.”

“A new site launch on this scale is further confirmation that the world of ‘e’ in health is alive and well,” Bard says. “I think this launch is a very strong statement there is future growth in this market and investors are confident there is more upside with respect to advertising dollars, sponsorship, and consumer-driven services over the long term.”

Silverstein points to tools and technologies that help consumers make decisions and take action as a cornerstone of “Health 2.0.” He said the new site is rich in community and aims to make health information simpler, more engaging, and more approachable, and aims to be “the connective tissue of healthcare.”

From the perspective of Christopher Schroeder, President and CEO of The HealthCentral Network, one of the most exciting things happening in the e-health space is that individuals are in charge of their information needs. However, he said that one-stop shops for health are not what people need.

“I’m not sure people think about health generically,” Schroeder tells ePharm5. He said that people think Google is their number-one health site, and “nobody Googles ‘health.’” Instead, he says, people are moving toward information and resources that cover a specific disease.

Schroeder is also unsure whether people will be willing to pay for e-health services. Although RevolutionHealth.com is a free portal, the other product that launched last week is a suite of paid membership telephonic services that Silverstein is like OnStar for Health." It will provide paid telephonic services such as answering health questions, providing benefits help, and getting assistance finding a doctor and scheduling appointments.

As far as pharmaceutical involvement, Silverstein was more vague, though he did say that there is opportunity for pharmas to be involved with the site, including participating in blogs and community chats to teach people about their product pipelines, the availability of clinical trials, and other information.

According to Bard, “Health 2.0” will give pharmaceutical companies and brand managers more choices to evaluate and consider when it comes to branding initiatives and building awareness. But each site offers a different value proposition. A large site could deliver the audience needed for a major awareness campaign, whereas another site may deliver highly targeted sponsorships.

“Just as there is room for innovation among television networks and major print outlets, there is certainly room for a number of market leaders to push the envelope of innovation in the online health space,” Bard says. “In fact, one could argue that competition, or even the perceived threat of competition, is often a prerequisite for large scale innovation and industry change.”

Courtesy of ePharm5TM
Researching and reporting pharma business and marketing innovation
© 2006, HCPro, Inc.

Click here for your FREE 30-day Trial:
http://www.epharm5.com/aboutepharm.cfm?s=BLOG

 

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