As we blogged yesterday, AOL co-founder Steve Case launched his $100/year online health offering today, featuring information, insurance services, and social networking for people with health concerns. The launch was announced in The Wall Street Journal.
Steve Case wrote an introductory letter to users of Revolution Health that appears on the site. Case’s letter says that he became interested in providing a health website back in 2001, when his brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since leaving Time Warner, Case has also started Exclusive Resorts, a privately-held firm which offers 1,800 members the chance to stay in 300 luxury vacation homes in more than 30 locations around the world.
A visit to the site showed a wealth of health information from a wide range of existing sources, such as the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, and health tools such as user ratings of treatments. The notation at the top of the ratings for medications, however, doesn’t make clear that such user ratings are unscientific and are not the same as empirical research. They only allude to being “viewed in the context of evidence-based data.”
A review of the most-rated antidepressants showed overall ratings in the range of 5.6 to 6.2, making it unclear how such ratings would be helpful in a person choosing an antidepressant. Of greater concern, however, was one of the highest rated treatments for depression was modafinil (Provigil), a treatment that has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression. There’s no notation that this medication’s use as a treatment for depression is an off-label use.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in response to the start-up of Revolution Health, competing site WebMD (preview release) is announcing a revamped website with additional free features and tools that will help consumers better understand their health.