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WebMD Health Corp.
Type of site
Subsidiary
FoundedJune 14, 1996; 27 years ago (1996-06-14)[1] (as Healthscape)
HeadquartersNew York City, New York, U.S.
Key people
ServicesHealthcare information
RevenueUS$705 million (2017)
Employees1,800 (2017)
ParentInternet Brands
URLwww.webmd.com Edit this at Wikidata

WebMD is an American corporation which publishes online news and information about human health and well-being.[3] The WebMD website also includes information about drugs and is an important healthcare information website and the most popular consumer-oriented health site.[4]

WebMD was started in 1998 by internet entrepreneur Jeff Arnold.[5] In early 1999, it was part of a three-way merger with Sapient Health Network (SHN) and Direct Medical Knowledge (DMK). SHN began in Portland, Oregon, in 1996 by Jim Kean, Bill Kelly, and Kris Nybakken, who worked together at a CD-ROM publishing firm, Creative Multimedia. Later, in 1999, WebMD merged with Healtheon, founded by Netscape Communications founder James H. Clark.[6]

Traffic

During March 2020, WebMD's network of websites reached more unique visitors each month than any other leading private or government healthcare website, making it the leading health publisher in the United States.[7] In the fourth quarter of 2016, WebMD recorded an average of 179.5 million unique users per month, and 3.63 billion page views per quarter.[8] In the first quarter of 2020, WebMD received approximately 127 million unique users viewing over 229 million page views per month.[9]

History

WebMD is best known as a health information services website, which publishes content regarding health and health care topics, including a symptom checklist, pharmacy information, drugs information, and blogs of physicians with specific topics, and provides a place to store personal medical information.[3] URAC, the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission, has accredited WebMD's operations continuously since 2001 regarding everything from proper disclosures and health content to security and privacy.[10]

The company reported $705 million in revenue for the year 2016.[6] In 2017, Internet Brands, a company owned by private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) agreed to purchase WebMD Health Corporation for approximately $2.8 billion.[6]

In May 2021, WebMD acquired the print magazine and website for patients with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD, ADDitude.[11] In August 2022, WebMD acquired the leading French medical news site Jim.fr.[12]

Company

WebMD is financed by advertising, third-party contributions, and sponsors. Some of the sponsors have influence over the content on WebMD.[13]

In 2013, the Chicago Tribune reported that WebMD, "has struggled with a fall in advertising revenue with pharmaceutical companies slashing marketing budgets as several blockbuster drugs go off patent." In response, WebMD began investing in changes to its site in order to entice users who use its site seeking specific information to linger on the site reviewing other material.[14]

WebMD offers services to physicians and private clients. They publish WebMD the Magazine, a patient-directed publication distributed bimonthly free of charge to 85 percent of physician waiting rooms.[15] Medscape is a professional portal for physicians and has training materials, a drug database, and clinical information on 30 medical specialty areas and more than 30 physician discussion boards.[16] WebMD Health Services provides private health management programs and benefit decision-support portals to employers and health plans.

The WebMD Health Network operates WebMD Health and other health-related sites including: Medscape, MedicineNet, eMedicine, eMedicineHealth, RxList, OnHealth, and theheart.org. These sites provide similar services to those of WebMD. MedicineNet is an online media publishing company.[17] Medscape offers up-to-date information for physicians and other healthcare professionals.[18] RxList offers detailed information about pharmaceutical information on generic and name-brand drugs.[19] eMedicineHealth is a consumer site offering similar information to that of WebMD. It was first based on the site created for physicians, dentists and other healthcare professionals called eMedicine.com.[20]

WebMD China is operated by an unaffiliated online publishing group, and is not part of the WebMD Health Network.[21][22]

Criticism

Writing in The New York Times Magazine in 2011, Virginia Heffernan criticized WebMD for biasing readers toward drugs that are sold by the site's pharmaceutical sponsors, even when they are unnecessary. She wrote that WebMD "has become permeated with pseudo-medicine and subtle misinformation."[23]

Julia Belluz of Vox criticized WebMD in 2016 ("The Truth about WebMD, a Hypochondriac's Nightmare and Big Pharma's Dream") for encouraging hypochondria and for promoting treatments for which evidence of safety and effectiveness is weak or non-existent, such as green coffee supplements for weight loss, vagus nerve stimulation for depression, and fish-oil/omega-3 supplements for high cholesterol.[24]

in 2012, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, MD, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa and the medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute, wrote an article entitled "Why I Can No Longer Trust Medscape".[25] In it he wrote that Medscape is "putting patients at risk by actively misinforming their physicians."[25] He also noted poor vetting of studies that Medscape chooses to publish as his reason for stating this.[25]

In 2016 a survey of Doctors found Web MD and its sister company Medscape to have incomplete medical information lacking depth and also numerous cases of misinformation on their sites.[24] A study of Medscape and Web MD also found both services to lack neutrality and exhibiting bias potentially based on very high payments (compared to their industry competitors) from the pharmaceutical industry.[24]

References

  1. ^ "HealthEon.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info – DomainTools". WHOIS. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  2. ^ "Steven Zatz Joins WebMD Board of Directors". Morgan Healey. October 30, 2018. Archived from the original on November 4, 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "What We Do For Our Users". WebMD. Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  4. ^ Jones, Peter (May 1, 2013). Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience. Rosenfeld Media. ISBN 978-1-933820-13-2.
  5. ^ Carrns, Ann (May 21, 1999). "Thanks to WebMD, Atlantan, Only 29, Becomes a Billionaire". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on October 8, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Bray, Chad (July 24, 2017). "K.K.R. to Buy WebMD and Take Majority Stake in Nature's Bounty". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "Top 50 Multi-Platform Properties (Desktop and Mobile) March 2020". Comscore. April 22, 2020. Archived from the original on May 21, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  8. ^ "Transcript of Q4 2016 WebMD Earnings Conference Call" (PDF). Investor.shareholder.com. February 16, 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2017.
  9. ^ "Traffic Overview for Webmd.com". Similarweb. April 22, 2020. Archived from the original on May 20, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  10. ^ "WebMD Health Services Group, Inc". Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  11. ^ "WebMD M&A deepens its informational resources about ADHD". MobiHealthNews. May 21, 2021. Archived from the original on January 2, 2023. Retrieved February 26, 2023.
  12. ^ "Jim.fr, a French source of medical news and information, is acquired by WebMD". Insider Apps. Archived from the original on August 23, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
  13. ^ "Web sites for medical information," News and Observer, September 13, 2007 Archived February 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Ail, Pallavi; Venkatesan, Adithya. "WebMD CEO Redmond leaving; company reports narrower loss". y 7, 2013. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  15. ^ "WebMD Corporation Launches Print Magazine," Archived September 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The Write News, April 22, 2005
  16. ^ "About Medscape". www.medscape.com. Archived from the original on January 11, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "About Us - MedicineNet.com". medicinenet.com. Archived from the original on April 2, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  18. ^ "Medscape - About Us". medscape.com. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  19. ^ "About Us - RxList.com". rxlist.com. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  20. ^ "About Us - eMedicineHealth.com". emedicinehealth.com. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  21. ^ "About Us - WebMD". webmd.cn. Archived from the original on June 23, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  22. ^ "How WebMD Got Locked Out of the China Market". Seeking Alpha. July 26, 2017.
  23. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (February 6, 2011). "A Prescription for Fear". The New York Times Magazine: MM14.
  24. ^ a b c Belluz, Julia (April 5, 2016). "The Truth about WebMD, a Hypochondriac's Nightmare and Big Pharma's Dream". Vox. Archived from the original on June 14, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c Freedhoff, MD, Yoni (April 11, 2012). "Why I Can No Longer Trust Medscape". Weighty Matters. Archived from the original on November 1, 2022. Retrieved May 14, 2022.