A renewed focus on the costs of healthcare, combined with the Affordable Care Act's incentive structure that attempts to prioritize quality of care above quantity of care, puts WebMD—a household name for online medical information with patients, physicians and caregivers—in a position to connect the dots that draw a picture of tomorrow's patient need.
Schlanger says he chuckles when he sees Abbvie's TV ad pushing Humira for Crohn's disease—"there's only 2 million people with Crohn's disease" in the US—because it stands as a relic of a bygone era where the biggest media spend all but guaranteed the largest chunk of the market. Money still talks, of course, but fewer patients are all tuned in to the same listening apparatus. Physicians and patients still need to be educated about prescription drugs, but with limited access to the former, and a larger cost burden placed on the latter, drug companies hoping to reach their target audiences (and target sales revenues) do better by concentrating on the quality of interaction, not the quantity of exposure.PE: As a well-known online destination for health information for patients, and for physicians through WebMD's Medscape division, what has changed in terms of what your visitors want to see when they visit your website?
PE: What's the missing link in connecting patients with physicians outside of the doctor's office? Several large companies—Google Health, Microsoft Health, etc. – have tried and failed to do exactly that.
Schlanger: One of our major initiatives is that we're connecting our audiences of consumers and physicians to allow WebMD to be the place where a consumer manages all of their healthcare information. That information doesn't necessarily need to be entered by patients themselves; it might come from biometric devices like glucometers, wearable activity monitors, and electronic health records from healthcare providers—incented by the Affordable Care Act—or even data shared from an employee's health risk assessment. We think that we can be the central place for a truly collaborative care record that enables consumers and health professionals to jointly manage care. We're also building a suite of services for healthcare professionals, administrative functions like appointment scheduling, check in, and copay collection.