HEALTH WEB SITES: Future Success Lies In Consolidation
Despite the past financial woes of consumer health care Web sites, industry analysts and professionals expect at least the big-name companies to survive by merging with other institutions, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Several e-health ventures, such as Drkoop.com and HealthGate Data Corp., have seen their stock value plummet in the wake of low revenue intake. Jeffrey Peters, a financial analyst at Dain Rauscher Wessels in Minneapolis, said most of the early consumer health care sites all sought advertising revenue, but "there was not enough advertising money to support the sites that sprang up." The Web sites that have survived are the larger entities that have "paired with other institutions, such as employers, insurers, hospitals or clinics, that will pay to supply information to customers." Here are three companies that fit this model:
- WebMD, "the leading consumer health site," has acquired 10 companies in the past 10 months in its effort to specialize "in health care transactions online." Merrill Lynch is "neutral" on WebMD's short-term prospects, but expects it to be a "dominant player in Internet health care" in the long run.
- Medem.com provides information supplied by the American Medical Association and other medical groups.
- Intelihealth is a subsidiary of Aetna U.S. Healthcare, the United States' largest operator of HMOs. Intelihealth "has built a diverse revenue stream" through advertising and the sale of health-related products from its Web site. It also has a partnership with Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Intelihealth will also introduce a new service next year that will give subscribers "their own health Web site and e-mail information bulletins."