Insurers, Dot-Coms Compete to Provide Web-Based Consumer Health Information
Insurers are "leading the race" to attract consumers to their Web sites for health information, Hospitals & Health Networks reports. While patients might think to turn to hospitals and doctors first for online health information, most doctors do not have Web sites, and hospitals' sites "offer little more than marketing information." Therefore, insurers and a "crop of new Internet companies" are hoping to "lure consumers" and "capture their loyalty." For example, Kaiser Permanente has developed a "sophisticated" Web program that offers online medical records and clinical information and a "patient-focused" portal called KP Online. Kaiser Chair David Lawrence said, "Where we have full-blown systems in place, we see a glimpse of what the world of the future will be. The tools we're putting in the hands of consumers will mean we won't need brick and mortar solutions." The "new" companies, including Vivius.com and Definity.com, intend to act as "consumers' agents" in selecting providers. However, because consumers continue to search for "what they need," they are "sending a message" that they are not fully satisfied with "established players or new kids on the block," according to a Deloitte Consulting study. The study says that consumers' "loyalty and trust are up for grabs. The organizations that seize this tremendous opportunity will emerge as winners and will capitalize on the tidal wave of demand" (Haugh, Hospitals & Health Networks, February 2000 issue).