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Summary:

Perseverance is one quality Steve Case has in abundance. When almost everyone had given up on America Online, he plowed ahead, somehow managing to keep going. It took over a decade, but eventually America Online soared. He will need the same steadfastness and patience for his […]

Perseverance is one quality Steve Case has in abundance. When almost everyone had given up on America Online, he plowed ahead, somehow managing to keep going.

steve.jpgIt took over a decade, but eventually America Online soared. He will need the same steadfastness and patience for his latest project, Revolution Health, which he started in July 2005.


Case, the former CEO of America Online and chairman of AOL Time Warner, launched Revolution LLC with $500 million of his own fortune, according to BusinessWeek. The Revolution Health Group is one of its projects. Revolution Living is the other. Since its launch, RHG has acquired six start-ups and invested in another (InterFit Health) to form the core of RevolutionHealth.com, launched Monday.

“It took a long time before people believed in AOL,” Case said in an interview. “I feel the same way about health care.” He did acknowledge that the current task was tougher, but added that the opportunity was larger.

No one can deny the fact that navigating the health care system, or simply finding relevant medical information can be a migraine-inducing exercise. A simple trip to the eye doctor can often result in a hernia-inducing paper trail. “There is a lot of frustration with the whole system on all sides,” Case says, and often “[the] consumer is on the fringes. We want to put them in charge.

“Most people when they look for health care or medical information, they go to a search engine, and are served up links,” says Case. Not an ideal scenario, especially if you as a consumer are searching for information relating to a particular ailment.

Case wants to offer an easy to use, well-organized health information portal populated with professional data from institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Harvard, with of course social networking built in.

The service also includes interesting medical tools, such as Symptom Checker. “I am a father of five and when one of the kids falls sick on Sunday morning, it’s straight to the emergency room because you just don’t know what’s wrong, and that’s quite frustrating,” he says.

There are some feedback mechanisms that can help patients make informed decisions. Visitors can rate their doctors and healthcare providers, helping share their experiences with others. “We want people to come here to stay healthy,” Case says.

Good point! Suffering from a bad case of lingering flu (thus explaining my prolonged absence from the blog) today seemed like a good time to figure out ways to quit smoking. At Revolution Health, it took less than five minutes to find the discussion forum where I should ideally be able to interact with others who have kicked the habit. The forum was devoid of messages, but I am quite likely to return.

Nevertheless, it also represents one of the many challenges facing Revolution Health. It faces competition from established players like WebMD. Then there is the little issue of company charging fees from customers. There are a growing number of start-ups who are chasing similar opportunities, by focusing on lucrative vertical opportunities. Some wonder if Revolution Health is trying to do too much?

Case explained that what RH is trying to do is what online brokerages did for personal finance. What’s the point of a personal portfolio if you can’t manage your stocks, mutual funds and other investment vehicles? And what good are they without solid research and data? “What we need is a simplistic approach,” he says. Everything neatly packaged – the kind of packaging that helped millions ease onto the Internet!

  1. I had over/under on RH shutting down at 24 months but with the 50% increase in TWX over the past four months essentially paying for the $500M that Case put in…I’m adjusting that number to 32 months.

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  2. Opening Bell: 1.23.07…

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  3. Hi, Om -

    I’m an interaction designer at Revolution Health and a long time subscriber to this site (and now, WWD). Thanks for taking time to write about us today, hopefully that asthma forum will start to return helpful conversations sooner rather than later.

    Not to plug our services, but if you don’t mind, I would like to point out, as a fan of your Web Worker Daily site, that I personally hope our Insurance Comparison Tool could potentially prove very valuable to your readers at WWD (contractors and the self-employed, working from home, etc), as it’s a very easy to use tool to help find health plans for themselves and their families.

    I would also like to point out for additional clarity, because I’ve seen some confusion about this lately, that our paid services are mostly telephone based, and not part of the website. The large majority of the website should be free forever — and hopefully the telephone paid services will prove valuable enough for people to pay for after 2007.

    Again, thanks for the write up. Nice to see some of the sites I read regularly posting about us after working 10 months (myself) on the project. If you or your readers have any constructive feedback, I’d be happy to hear it, and I’ll see about answering any questions that I can.

    Thanks,
    Kyle

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  4. How can you change millions of people’s behavior through a WebMD-wannabe website? Are people suddenly going to stop going to search engines to start their health search? Does Revolution’s content offer something WebMD didn’t already offer? Outside of the social networking stuff, I’m not seeing the value proposition or rationale for these valuations (outside of the fact that it’s Steve Case, who has zero healthcare background).

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  5. When I first heard about RH at a major pharmaceutical convention, my first thought was…what does Steve Case and his hired executives know about healthcare? Nada

    But now that I think about it…does it really matter if he’s an expert in healthcare? The man is doing something or trying to do something to change healthcare for the better.

    Even if RH may be lacking some crucial things or may not be up to par as some other already existing sites, he deserves applaud for attempting to make a difference

    Through trial and error…is when a great product is developed

    [M]ichelle

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  6. I would think after having 5 kids and being as smart as Case supposedly is, he wouldn’t have to rush his kids to the emergency room every time they are sick. No wonder the emergency rooms are all full.

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  7. Want to change healthcare for real? Find companies, organizations and people who have already been trying to do just that for the past 10 or 20 years and give them your support. Don’t add yet one more “me-too” health website to the noise and call it something sensational because it actually prides itself on its UNreliable knowledge.

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  8. youdothevoodoothatyoudosooowell Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Bud Fox:

    Case is attempting to emulate the extreme lumpenproletariat common touch with his tall tale of emergency room visits. Preventative care is what mitigates the need for emergency room visits.

    Mostly the uninsured, for routine diagnoses, hit the emergency room for what ails.

    Steve Case has boutique, on-call care…with house visits. Or if he or a family member needs a work-up, goes to some place like Pritikin or The Greenbrier…

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  9. I tried out their website (RevolutionHealth.com)
    I did a Doctor’s Search , it doesn’t appear to be working.

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  10. A Revolution Health employee. Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    “When I first heard about RH at a major pharmaceutical convention, my first thought was…what does Steve Case and his hired executives know about healthcare? Nada”

    Indeed…however Mr. Case WAS smart enough to hire PLENTY of us with years of healthcare experience. In my case, 25 years from a provider, to an administrator to healthcare IT exec.

    From the outside, it’s easy to assume that there’s no healthcare experience here and you’d be incorrect. Consider this: no one could build what we’ve built in the time we’ve built it without healthcare experience.

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