AOL Co-Founder Steve Case wants to create another online revolution, this time in health care.
Case officially launched RevolutionHealth.com today, following months of an open beta. The health information site is trying to distinguish itself from other sites with its reliance on elements of Web 2.0, such as user-generated content and crowd-sourcing.
Case said he decided to launch the site because “health care in this country is screwed up.” He has designed RevolutionHealth.com to be “a change agent, and force the industry to put the patient at the center.”
It’s just the business model that’s traditional: ad-supported, like its likely rival, WebMD.com.
The site will include tools like a Medicine Chest, which will provide information about treatment options for particular diseases, including natural remedies; a health assessment tool called KnowYourRisk; Revolution Ratings, which will allow patients to rate doctors and hospitals; and Symptom Checker, which, as the name implies, allows users to figure out what may be ailing them.
The site also allows members to publish their own health information. A section called Revolution Health Pages allows members to publish and track their individual health records.
The site will also provide users with health care information from well-known sources like the Mayo Center, Cleveland Clinic, the Society for Women’s Health Research and the Columbia University Medical Center.
The company also announced the acquisition of Carepages, which is used by members to update their families on important events like the birth of a new child or medical emergencies or hospitalization. Carepages has more than 2 million contributors and 30 million page views per month.
Case said that health information portals today are not compelling or useful.
For instance, “People can rate pages and the best ideas can bubble to the surface,” he said during a Web conference call to announce the launch. “Social networking has not been applied to health care before.”
Case admitted that the ratings system, whether applied to health care providers, articles about health care, or content from other members, won’t have much value until it gains critical mass. “You don’t get the benefits of the wisdom of the crowd until you get that crowd,” he said in response to a question from internetnews.com.
But he noted that, while it took AOL nine years to reach the nine million member mark, it only took another nine years to reach 25 million.
Case is also trying to hook doctors into the system, and has formed an alliance with the American Academy of Family Physicians, which has 94,000 members.
Tools from RevolutionHealth will also be prominently displayed on iVillage.com, an online destination for women with 16 million members. This is clearly a target, as Case noted that women are usually their families’ “chief health officer.”