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Business - Written by on Friday, December 7, 2007 9:54 - 1 Comment

Leading a revolution?

Former AOL frontman Steve Case is not-so-quietly putting together an impressive package of patient-oriented healthcare sites. Since mid-2005 his company, Revolution Health Group, has acquired all or part of: CarePages.com , SparkPeople.com, MyDNA Media, 1-800-Schedule, Simo Software, Wondir Inc. , Connectyourcare.com, Extend Benefits, and InterFit.com. Back in October, John Pleasants, RHG CEO noted, “Our goal is bold, but simple: build the leading online resource for health care, period.”

Evidently, they’ve hit a road bump or two, with some definite concerns about the long term sustainability of the company after massive layoffs in October.

But with yesterday’s acquisition of HealthTalk, the RHG is now the number two english-language health site on the Web – second only to WebMD. HealthTalk, by the way, offers patients with a range of chronic illnesses, from rheumatoid arthritis to Alzheimer’s to cancers to colitis, with personalized spaces and a community of over 500,000 members.

It fits nicely with the company’s goal of giving consumers/patients more control and more responsibility over their health care, and most important, within a Web 2.0 framework. The question is whether patients are willing to pay for such services? Or whether traction will come predominantly from company-sponsored memberships for both patients and physicians?

Either way, Case’s efforts are indicative of a strong movement towards righting the balance of power between patients and physicians in the health care environment. As evidenced by the flurry of reports pointing to medical errors as a leading cause of mortality, patients can no longer rely on the Hippocratic oath to keep them out of harms way when receiving medical care. Whether the Web 2.0 can help right the current imbalance is yet to be seen, though the potential of community-centred sites such as HealthTalk or PatientsLikeMe makes them worth watching closely.

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Wikinomics » Blog Archive » New finding: Cyberchondria frequently over-diagnosed
Feb 2, 2009 9:44

[...] in specific, these sites often make matters worse. On (a site like Patients Like Me [mentioned here and here]), a health anxiety patient might hear about a side effect of their medication. That [...]

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