Can you give an example of what that might look like?
Schlanger: If you're a congestive heart failure patient, you have to go to the doctor frequently to get your weight and blood pressure
checked, because those are the two big indicators of a problem. If you have a sudden weight gain, you have fluid build up;
if your blood pressure changes, those are signs that your heart is not functioning adequately. In the old world, you'd see
the doctor every couple of weeks. You'd step on a scale, get a blood pressure reading, and if everything looks okay, you'd
leave and stay on the same medication. Now, with the technology that exists today [if you have a smartphone and a wireless
scale], that data could be uploaded through your smartphone—in a HIPPA compliant way—and sent to your doctor's office every
day, instead of every couple of weeks. You can hook up a device to your finger through your smartphone to check blood pressure,
and it would go to your doctor's office in real-time. And the doctor doesn't even need to look at it every day—the technology
can alert him when something is out of range, or something changes. And the doctor can intervene earlier, to create a better
outcome at a much lower cost.
Last October, WebMD showed up in a lot of high profile tech publications with its acquisition of Avado, a "patient relationship
management" software platform and a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist. Can you describe your Healthy Target program (launched on
June 16), and how Avado fits in to that product?
Schlanger: We're starting with wearable devices and biometric data. The reason we're doing that is because there's been a problem with
all of those FitBits and UP bands and wireless scales; people use them for a little while, and then stop, because the information
provided is just numbers on a screen. I took 6,000 steps yesterday, but what does that really mean to me? How does it help
me lead a better life? The answer is it doesn't and that's why people stop using these devices. But we think those devices
are really powerful if you take the data and turn it into meaningful insights and action, and put it into the context of a
program to actually help you live a better life.
What's the selling point for the Healthy Target (part of WebMD's iPhone app) program?
Schlanger: Healthy Target allows you to take data from a whole bunch of wireless devices—scales, glucometers, activity monitors—and use
that data in the context of a health improvement program which allows you to set goals that are unique to you. Do you want
to sleep better, to eat better, to lose weight, to lower your blood glucose? The app lets you set those goals, and we onboard
all of your data from those devices and use it to help you engage in those healthy habits, and monitor your progress against
those goals. So it turns all that device data from numbers into insights and action. Once we continue down the development
road to connect consumers to their physicians, the data will be shareable so that when the physician says, "You need to lose
weight," you can say, "I'm going to use the WebMD Healthy Target program," and the physician can say, "Send me your weekly
How does pharma fit in to this new communication platform, and how can individual companies partner with WebMD to reach patients
Schlanger: I've been in the healthcare business for 25 years, and I started at one of the large PBMS, so compliance and adherence has
been something that's been buzzing around in my head for over two decades. Physicians aren't equipped to call all of their
patients and ensure that they're taking their medications. We can use claims data to find out whether you got your prescription
filled, and if not, we can empower your physician to automatically communicate with you, and create incentives for you to
be adherent with your medication. Compliance is the doctor forcing you, and adherence is voluntarily knowing that you need
to take your medication. I think if people know their doctor is watching and paying attention, they're going to be more adherent.