United Health dot Web

December 12th, 2008 | Sources: Wall Street Journal

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Health insurance giant United Healthcare is launching an online consumer health information portal known as myoptumhealth.com.

In doing so it enters a crowded space featuring front-runners like WebMD, Revolution Health and Mayo Clinic, and a host of profitable niche sites.

UHC’s health-and-wellness unit, OptumHealth will operate the site. It will be free and designed for the general public rather than UHC plan members, corporate clients or employees.

Myoptumhealth.com will feature symptom checkers, tools and calculators, health-related search and a secure online personal health record similar to the ones offered by Cerner, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Cleveland Clinic and just about everyone who knows HTML.

Although the health information portal concept is not new, many feel the sector will continue to grow as the Great Economic Crisis of 2008 forces people to pay for care out of pocket and make medical decisions on their own, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Naturally, UHC hopes its site will generate business for its core medical, vision and dental insurance products and its fee-based phone counseling services for chronic disease patients.

The consumer health information market has been active lately. In October, two large online health information companies, Waterfront Media and Revolution Health agreed to a $300 million merger that could vault the new entity ahead of WebMD, the current market leader.

But WebMD is also expanding. The site, which according to comScore had 17.3 million unique visitors in July, recently announced plans to acquire QualityHealth.com for $50 million.

If myoptumhealth.com doesn’t fly out of the box, look for cash-rich UHC to go into acquisition mode to grow its play in this space. Right now, several cool niche players are swimming freely.


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