E-HEALTH: ‘Magic Words: Health Care and Internet’
Fortune takes a look at the booming online drugstore market in a five-part series, using Drugstore.com as a case study. Part one examines Drugstore.com's recent partnership with Rite Aid and analyzes why "brick-and-mortar retail chains like Walgreens and Rite Aid have started thinking about the Web." Part two highlights Drugstore.com CEO Peter Neupert's "persuasive logic" in moving to the Internet, part three looks at the surprising but inevitable partnership between Drugstore .com and reviled "brick and mortar" chain Rite Aid, and part four looks at what's next for the online leader. A fifth section provides comparison shopping: a bottle of Advil costs $8.99 at Walgreens but $6.99 at Drugstore.com (Warner, 7/19 issue).
Tearing Through the Gate
HealthGate Data Corp., on the Internet at www.healthgate.com, stands to enjoy the same success of its Internet counterparts in the IPO market, Reuters/Los Angeles Times reports. HealthGate "is on everyone's want list," said analyst John Fitzgibbon of Redherring.com, adding, "The stock is hot. It has the ... magic words: health care and Internet." The Burlington, MA-based company, slated to hold its first public offering this week, "said it plans to provide physicians, health care professionals, patients and consumers with better information for more informed decisions regarding their health." In rolling out 4.6 million shares at $10 to $12 apiece, HealthGate is hoping to follow the lead of Healtheon Corp. and drkoop.com, which have "set the standard for the sector" (Summers, 7/12).
"As managed care crimps the doctor-patient relationship, it's no surprise that hordes of patients are turning to other sources of medical information," says an editorial in yesterday's Washington Post. The less predictable trend, the piece notes, is that the health care fortunes have come not to those who actually provide the care, but to those who navigate the information and help consumers find their way. But "offering decent guidance through this thicket is a fairly labor-intensive endeavor." In fact, C. Everett Koop's Web site promises to rate other Internet health web sites in addition to hosting its own health news and question-and-answer forums. The piece wonders, "Will such sites -- odd hybrids between a publication, a doctor, a marketplace and a consumer report -- end up behaving in the marketplace more like a health care supply business (profitable), a scientific journal (unprofitable) or something new?" (7/12).