Medify, Stocked with Farecast Vets, Digs Deep into Online Health Data

8/22/11Follow @curtwoodward

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to be made: Medify estimates that drug makers, health services companies, and heathcare providers spend around $10 billion a year marketing to consumers. And right now, Streat says, there’s not a lot of next-generation targeting behind that spending.

“The way most of that is done today is like in a time warp—it’s very old-line marketing. It’s plastering banner ads across WebMD, it’s traditional media with the big TV ads,” Streat says. “What doesn’t happen in the space right now, which we’ll be bringing to it, is the ability to put the consumer in front of a pharmaceutical company or service provider at the point where the consumer has gotten some good background on them.”

On the way to developing its consumer service—which is still in a beta mode and has some improvements coming in the next few months, Streat says—Medify actually stumbled onto another significant revenue stream in the professional subscription market for medical professionals.

“We’ve had a larger than expected number of professionals—doctors, medical researchers, etc.—look at what we have and say what we have is better than what they pay for right now to get information,” Streat says. “That professional subscription market is a pretty meaningful market as well.” Medify estimates that one competitor in that sector, UpToDate, has a $200-$300 million annual business in selling subscriptions to some 400,000 doctors nationwide.

Streat says working on Medify has given him and his partners a lot of insights into problems with the healthcare system, something the nation is nowhere near done wrestling with as health spending continues to eat up a disproportionate share of the economy and the Baby Boom generation speeds toward old age.

There are many companies out there trying to take on bigger slices of the healthcare system and make huge, systemic changes to things like the incentive systems for doctors and payment structures for insurance companies. Medify is content, Streat says, to tackle its slice—and thinks it can make a real difference.

“What we’ve decided to focus on is where people are already taking things into their own hands, and ground zero is online health search. That’s where the user has at least of a little bit of control,” he says. “And that’s where there’s an opportunity to really make change and do it in a way that people can do something with today, not that they can do something with two presidents down the road and a decade later when people have worked out healthcare reform … we’re about doing a revolution today, not 10 years from now.”

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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