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Everyday Health & Revolution Health merger staying in 1.0

Everyday Health and Revolution Health have announced their merger, creating a consumer health Web site designed to challenge WebMD. The new company will operate under the name Waterfront Media.

There’s no doubt that they will get a lot of consumer traffic to their network of sites. One of the things that remains unclear for both Waterfront and WebMD is to what extent they will serve primarily as reference sources versus playing a greater role in consumers’ own health management. The answer may very well lie in the degree to which they provide information therapy (Ix), not just health information.

As 1.0 as it is, there’s certainly no shame in being a valuable reference tool. I’m a big fan of information democratization. But it’s impact on care management has limitations.

From the Ix perspective, accurate and comprehensive health information is only one third of the equation: the right information to the right person at the right time. Proactively delivering (or prescribing) that information “just in time” or at the particular moment in care that someone needs it to make an informed decision or support a healthy behavior requires another level of functionality. Similarly, tailoring that information to the particular needs of a diverse population in a way that is actually understandable, meaningful, engaging and actionable requires considerably more sophistication than the science and technology that supported a 1.0 world.

Just as I’ve said many times before that technology is only a tool, good information is only one (necessary but not sufficient) ingredient in Ix. Figuring out how to get timely, tailored information not only consumed but also internalized by lay people is critically important to effective and efficient health care. This is what Ix is all about.

That’s why the intersection of Ix and Health 2.0 is so important for the future of health care — for effective self-management, for participatory medicine, for real patient-centered medical homes, and for a more effective care delivery system that truly supports consumers’ needs. The IxCenter will be focusing increasingly on this intersection in the coming months, and there is a lot more exciting news on that front coming to you in the very near future.

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Rushika FernandopulleJohn M. Grohol, PsyDGary Levin MDDeron S.Brad Jacobs MD MPH Recent comment authors
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John M. Grohol, PsyD
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Yes, and this is exactly what millions of people have been doing for well over 20+ years online. I’m not sure exactly what a physician adds to this behavior, especially in terms of justifying a new terminology to describe this everyday, ordinary behavior (recommending online resources). In olden days, we’d call this bibliotherapy. Writing is writing, whether it appears online or elsewhere. I agree, physicians may be a great resource for recommending online health information. But without hard data showing otherwise, they may be no better nor worse than anyone else doing the same. And as a health consumer, while… Read more »

Rushika Fernandopulle
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I don’t think Josh’s view is incompatible with those of the other comments above. I am a primary care doc who has spent the last several years building and working in innovative delivery models, in all of which we prescribe information to our patients as a critical part of our care interactions. The most important thing is that consumers/patients/people get the information they need to best manage their health and be engaged in their medical care. My experience is that people use information from a variety of sources- friends, the web, and their doctor- depending on the patient (not everyone… Read more »

Josh Seidman
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John, I appreciate where you’re coming from, and I agree that there are many ways for people to find and ingest health information. But it also depends a lot on the individual. Susannah Fox from the Pew Internet Project has told me that health care is much different from other industries Pew has studied in that consumers are much more likely to seek out a professional in a time of crisis. In fact, according to Pew data, 80% of Internet health information seekers (and I presume a greater percentage of the general public) seek guidance from a clinician. Several other… Read more »

John M. Grohol, PsyD
Guest

Respectfully, Josh, it’s not surprising you didn’t find many answers to whether this new combined entity will have much value for “information therapy,” because as Brad pointed out, that’s not their mission. Not everything fits into one’s world view, even if you try and hammer that square peg into a round hole. Even your definition of “information therapy” is hopelessly 1.0-based. People being “prescribed” information? Since when has information ever needed to be prescribed in order for someone to ingest it? That’s a very top-down, doctor-based model. A person who recommends someone else read a particular article or such isn’t… Read more »

Gary Levin MD
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Health (to the nth power) is an evolving medium. It is interesting that the classical medical library may become extinct very soon. The survivor and next evolutionary step will be on the internet, imbedded in the providers EMR. This is the most efficient delivery of information at the point of care…instantaneously available for the provider and allied health providers.
Another possible business model might be similar to Google’s adclick model. It also might be useful for generating revenue as it is used for specific patient encounters.

Deron S.
Guest

My medical group has chosen the model of licensing content from one of the top providers not mentioned, and integrating it into our existing website. Over time, we intend to utilize that content more and more in the treatment of our patients, thereby allowing them to take a more active role in their healthcare. It’s all about education, and currently the physician community is not doing enough of that. I can’t blame them, because our healthcare system needs a lot of work in order to create an environment where education is promoted over simply treating problems. Patients must also step… Read more »

Brad Jacobs MD MPH
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Brad Jacobs MD MPH

Thanks for your thoughtful description of information therapy in reference to my former employer (Rev Health/Waterfront) and WebMD. I don’t believe information therapy fits in the core business objectives of the large CONSUMER health websites currently in the marketplace at this time. Josh, to your point, Ix requires that ‘we’ know something about YOU, so that we can provide timely and personalized information/tools. In the current on-line community environments, the products and content are not designed to ‘receive’ clinically-relevant information from the visitor because the vast majority of visitors to these ‘communities’ are the casual consumer who takes a quick… Read more »

Josh Seidman
Guest

Gilles, You’re absolutely right. If my post suggested otherwise, it certainly wasn’t intended. That’s certainly part of the intersection of Health 2.0 and Ix as well. When we talk about Ix, we have always discussed three “prescribers” of information: 1) Clinician-prescribed; 2) System-triggered (based on data sources that serve as “information triggers” like a new lab value, medication, diagnosis, etc. that suggests a new need for a particular piece of information); and 3) Consumer-prescribed. Even within that last category, there are multiple possibilities: Self-prescribed; prescribing to a friend/family member; and prescribed by someone in a peer group (this could be… Read more »

Gilles Frydman
Guest

Josh, this is all true but I believe there is still another aspect of the online communities that has not been fully understood and may be of big significance for all those in the long tail of medicine. You wrote “Figuring out how to get timely, tailored information not only consumed but also internalized by lay people is critically important to effective and efficient health care. This is what Ix is all about.” In a growing number of cases the members of these communities have a much more fundamental role that just be consumers of information. They are becoming first… Read more »