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WebMD social networking site matches hospitals with consumers.

November 20, 2009
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Posted by Paul Maring

WebMD founder Jeff Arnold has teamed up with Dr. Mehmet Oz to create a social networking site where readers can ask health questions. It’s called Sharecare and will roll out in early 2010 according to Forbes.

The most interesting wrinkle to this is that in addition to celebrity doctors answering consumers’ questions, health care companies (product brands, hospitals, etc.) will contribute answers, too. The site has already lined up Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and New York-Presbyterian. Their physicians and nurses will provide answers and feel free to direct people to their institutions or affiliates.

I assume readers will know they’re getting both advice and a sales pitch (the law requires disclosure). I don’t know if other hospitals around the country will join in or if there are plans to isolate responses geographically. If that happens, then a hospital in Des Moines could be providing answers to consumers in its area. Quite a marketing tool! It would differentiate that hospital as being a nationally recognized resource for health info.

It will be fascinating to watch this unfold.

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