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April 16, 2007

Two kinds of value: Revolution Health, what people want and what people need

Why should Revolution Health be any more revolutionary than WebMD?  What about  Haven't heard much lately about that once-promising site with top-shelf branding.  Why are we so enamored with social networking, at the expense of delivery of expert content?  Why should I care what Hangnail in Harrisburg has to say about her encounter with the medical-industrial complex, when all I really want is a few on-point pearls of wisdom from Harvard's Head of Hangnails?

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but the close observation and analysis attending every move at Revolution Health and other websites (perhaps - gasp - even Google) offering medical advice without having to actually get an appointment with a health care provider (for today, Bob Coffield's Health Care Law Blog is Exhibit A, and Matt Holt's The Health Care Blog is Exhibit B) seems to have more to do with Websites of the Rich and Famous than Web 2.0 or eHealth or anything that might have a concrete and positive impact on jes' folks (at least in the health care department).

Steve Case himself says he hopes to carve out a branded corner of the web over the next five years (see today's NY Times article) -- maybe then he'll be able to realize some market value.  The NYT also reports that RevHealth is newly rejiggered to focus on the fairer sex.  Looks to me like this is all marketing (or as we say in my neck of the woods, mahketing).

Where in all the social networking and mahketing is the health improvement, or at least health care information improvement?  Where is the (non-infotainment) value to the consumer?

We learn from RevHealth folks in the comments at THCB that MDs can create their own homepages using RevHealth content (like MySpace for grownups?).  I'd echo Dmitriy Kruglyak of Trusted.MD in asking: Where's the beef?

Last week, Dmitriy presciently took a stab at answering his own question here, citing a Washington Post article on a study linking use of on-line health info with increased patient trust in physicians.

Perhaps that's where the value lies: if patients can engage in more-informed conversations with their health care providers about their conditions and treatment options, that's a good thing.  I'm still not 100% convinced that the material out there does the trick. 

-- David Harlow


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