The Future Of (Is) Health on the Net

It felt like the early days of the Internet, when a bunch of seemingly delirious companies were all hyped up about something called “eCommerce” — the then-stunning concept that people might actually conduct end-to-end shopping transactions on the Net, from browsing products to paying and delivery. Who would’ve thought?

So if some of the new stuff debuted at yesterday’s forward-looking Health 2.0 conference sounds dubious to you now, take a deep breath and keep an open mind. There is now officially no doubt that HEALTH is the one of the hottest new business frontiers. Watch this high-impact opening video created for the conference to get a feel for the vibe of it all:


* — a new video player aspiring to become the “YouTube of Healthcare.” They’ve posted a series of interviews from the conference, including one of me, but unfortunately the viewing quality is currently pretty hiccup-ey, at least this morning.

* — an “online marketplace for medical services” that allows you to search for local doctors and clinics by name, by treatment/condition, or by health plan all over the US. Just for fun I searched for “diabetes” in San Francisco, CA, and nothing came up. OK, so it’s still very new and semi-experimental at the moment (?).

* — like for health services. You can comparison-shop health plans, doctors and dentists, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and much more. Wow.

* — “online pain management services.” A secure and private place to keep a diary you can share with your doctor.

* — the name kind of says it all… but no, not really. You click on various parts of the human body to describe your symptoms, and then search for your potential ailment. Visual fun for cyber-chondriacs?

* Curbside.MD — new health search engine that uses “natural language queries.” In other words, you can type in “I’m a 32-yr-old diabetic with glaucoma and heart burn” and it will spit out a “visual diagnosis” including “guidelines and recommendations,” clinical outcomes (research results), and dozens of other articles to review. The more detail you plug in, the better, they tell me.

* — a very big URL, that seems for the moment to be attempting an “everything for everyone” approach to health on the web. Surely they will narrow their focus soon.

* — a place to input your health specs and assess yourself with a “health score.” Participants suggested something like this as a sort of “FICO (credit) score for your health,” in which you get paid for a higher score. And if your doctor doesn’t help you improve your score, you change doctors (!)

* PeerClip — a “social bookmarking tool” for physicians, allowing them to store and share favorite online resources, articles, podcasts, videos and more. The site supposedly “enhances the value for busy physicians.” And while I like idea of doctors being Internet-savvy and up-to-date, I sure hope my doc won’t be spending too much time playing with PeerClip while (s)he could be spending time with me :)

Coming soon:

* — a neat place to check for those nasty drug interactions before they hit (!)

* — another very neat site that allows you to take a detailed graphical tour of the human body. Kind of like Google Earth for human anatomy.

* — a place to chat in real-time with other patients experiencing the same things you are. Will also include information resources, TBD.


“The reimbursement system in this country is broken… Healthcare is a giant hairball” — from Wayne Gattinella, CEO of WebMD (originally from Jack Valancy ?).

“Healthcare in the US is more like that calcified thing at the bottom of the drain clogging it up. We need to chip away at it” — from Esther Dyson, digital technology investor and very nearly legend in her own right.

People have better experiences if they understand more about their care, have better relationships with their providers and a sense of community… This is not a brand new thing, but Health 2.0 tools make it easier” — from conference organizer Matthew Holt, quoted in today’s San Jose Mercury News.

Viva la New Frontier!


13 Responses

  1. Albert
    Albert September 21, 2007 at 10:31 am | | Reply

    Definitely a thought-provoking video of how health care has evolved throughout time.

    It’s nice how, through Health 2.0, we as the general population are more enabled to manage our own health. Alleviating our need to completely depend on a rather dysfunctional system.

  2. Sri
    Sri September 21, 2007 at 12:06 pm | | Reply


    While the progression of web based platforms into the healthcare domain steamrolls ahead, the issue of privacy remains unresolved. Perhaps the biggest issue facing the end-user is the lack of understanding in areas related to information protection and identity management. How many internet users understand the ramifications of a tracking cookie? Is obfuscation of identity the answer? A few bloggers like you, bernard, kerri and me are open about our chronic conditions. What impact will this openness have on our employment prospects if a potential employer runs a google search and stumbles on our blogs? Will our health condition cloud their judgement when it comes to making an impartial decision on our ability to perform our jobs? There are many unanswered questions that need open and concrete answers. Until privacy issues are resolved, the openness and viability of online healthcare communities and platforms as reliable sources of medical information is questionable.

  3. Kevin
    Kevin September 21, 2007 at 1:45 pm | | Reply

    which companies are relevant to people with diabetes and how?

  4. AmyT
    AmyT September 21, 2007 at 3:13 pm | | Reply

    Good question, Kevin. Potentially all of them, and how remains to be seen. As noted in yesterday’s post: we, the patients, will largely determine which of these sites will survive and thrive — based on how useful we find them.

  5. Scott
    Scott September 21, 2007 at 7:06 pm | | Reply

    Amy, I have to agree with Sri, the the issue of privacy remains unresolved, but I have to add, that it goes well beyond the web frontier to our personal medical records. This year, a GAO report found that the NIH had made only marginal progress at addressing the issue of health privacy, and we lack any of the same protections we are entitled to regarding our credit reports … why, and why is it that the tech people seem woefully unconcerned about this issue, as do our legislators? These issues need to be addressed before we march down the path of having electronic medical records, yet even my fellow diabetes patients seem blissfully ignorant of these issues.

  6. A Bohemian Knitter
    A Bohemian Knitter September 21, 2007 at 7:38 pm | | Reply

    I was just diagnosed as a diabetic after arriving at an ER with blood sugar of 624.

    I’m stll in shock, but I very determinedly brought my sugars down to th 100′s (below 120) in 5 days.

    But then my vision went blurry and it’s scaring me death. I was told that ths is a normal thing at first, but it’s still scary.

    Anyway, I just bookmarked this blog….I’m going to need a lot of education.

  7. AmyT
    AmyT September 21, 2007 at 7:55 pm | | Reply

    Welcome, Bohemian. The beginning is scary, but you are going to be OK.

    PLEASE give yourself more than 5 days to get on track! And yes, blurry vision is very typical when your sugars are so out of whack.

  8. Vicki
    Vicki September 24, 2007 at 11:09 am | | Reply

    There’s already an excellent website where you can check drug interactions. It’s at

  9. iri
    iri September 24, 2007 at 9:23 pm | | Reply

    Hi Amy,

    I really liked your post regarding the conference. I’ll keep you posted on new developments on iMedix.

  10. Miriam Bookey
    Miriam Bookey September 28, 2007 at 10:52 am | | Reply

    Hi Amy ~

    I’m surprised and disappointed you didn’t get any search results. When I clicked on the conditions tab at, typed in diabetes, and entered san francisco, ca, I got 190+ results [ We’ll soon have a much simpler search (no tabs!) that will eliminate the “no responses.” Please come visit us again.

    All my best,
    Miriam Bookey

  11. Drew Schulthess
    Drew Schulthess October 5, 2007 at 6:52 am | | Reply

    Hi Amy,

    Good posts on the conference, its been fun touring all the neat sites.

    One really interesting site you touched base on in the ‘Coming Soon’ section of your post is Why is this going to be so important?

    FDA, Center for Evaluation and Research:

    -Adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death;
    -There are over two million serious Adverse Drug Reactions each year;
    -Adverse drug reactions account for approximately 100,000 deaths each year;

    With so many prescription drugs on the market doctors and patients don’t have enough time to search for all the potential ADR’s.

    DoubleCheckmd makes finding drug-related problems fast and easy. Because DCMD identifies drug-related problems in a fraction of the time it would take other systems, DCMD is helping people recognize drug side effects that would otherwise have been missed for lack of time. What is really unique about this tool and sets it apart from other sites available is its ability to do syptom and drug interaction analysis using Natural Language Technology(NLR); NLR that enables the system to understand symptoms as the user naturally describes them. Everybody explains how they feel differently, so essentially, this system will be able to understand what users are saying an provide amazingly accurate results.

    The site is available for a beta preview right now. I would really like to hear what you have to say about it, I think it is going to help a lot of individuals and save lives. I hope you find it as exciting as I do!

  12. Kevin Jones
    Kevin Jones February 24, 2008 at 8:36 pm | | Reply

    The potential benefit of these personel medical record systems out weigh the privacy risk, and I am sure more laws will be passed. But for my money I would never trust Microsoft with this given its track record with windows and Google has stumbled around now trying to team up with a big burecratic health system. For my money I am sticking to the smaller companies like to have the most relevant and easy to use system

  13. CP
    CP December 20, 2008 at 2:18 am | | Reply

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