Internet Site Revolution Health Takes on WebMD with User-Centric Focus

| About: WebMD Health (WBMD)
Revolution Health recently completed the acquisition of two burgeoning health websites. Revolution added HealthTalk, a site focused on patients with chronic conditions, and invested in SparkPeople, which offers diet and exercise plans as well as social networking functionality. Revolution sites include and – the combined Network attracts more than 12 million unique visitors a month.

Steve Case, founder of Revolution, believes the consumer will be a key driver in the $2 trillion healthcare market; said Case, “[the] segment is ripe for disruption.”

Case seems to have a pulse on the industry with a focus on user interaction; WebMD (NASDAQ:WBMD) employs a more traditional publishing model.

Revolution spokesman Brad Burns said based on October data compiled by comScore, Revolution Health had 105 million page views, while SparkPeople had 84 million and HealthTalk had 8 million. Revolution’s sites experienced substantial growth over the past year, far surpassing WebMD’s 20% increase in unique visitors.

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SparkPeople’s community and social networking elements seem to gaining market share as well. In addition to its traditional forums, the company offers ‘SparkPages’ – customizable weight loss blogs akin to MySpace.

Says one user, “This might just be a good thing here, blogging on my lunch hour, instead of eating :) No, just kidding, I’ve already had my lunch consisting of a baked potato and garden salad. So now my taste buds are screaming for something sweet, so I’m blogging to try and shut them up.”

According to, the number of unique visitors toSparkPeople grew 142% YOY. Notably, SparkPeople keeps its users online for 37% longer than WebMD, with the average user viewing 40.2 pages versus WebMD’s 15.4.

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Capturing and engaging a participatory audience of health-centric individuals could have huge payoff down the line. Competing technologies are becoming harder to differentiate; if the recent Facebook imbroglio tells us anything, it’s that fostering a loyal user base is a key ingredient for success.

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