Big Pond content coup for West Australian portal

The Virtual Medical Centre has struck a deal with BigPond to provide health content for Australia’s biggest ISP.

The West Australian-based health site, which has been in operation for more than five years, operates websites for consumers and healthcare professionals across more than 20 therapy areas.

BigPond visitors can link through to the Virtual Medical Centre site, which provides information on diseases, pharmaceuticals and practical remedies, as well as healthy living and diet tips.

It also gives users access to a GP directory, educational videos and a medical dictionary, as well as interactive tools including a BMI calculator, a pregnancy calculator and a blood count evaluation tool.

Medical specialists who join the site are given access to “professional members only” tools which allow them to evaluate a patients’ health, including tools to calculate how many migraines a patient may suffer a month, a durogesic dose calculator and a body surface access calculator.

There are also separate sections for women, men and children, which group together relevant medical topics such as pregnancy, immunisations and prostate health.

More than 1000 medical specialists have contributed to the site.

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Health online soaring

According to researchers comScore, the health information site category has grown 21% during the past year – more than four times the growth rate of the total U.S. Internet population. There were 69 million unique visitors in July alone – more than 17 million of them to top-ranked site WebMD.

Improved site functionality, increased content personalization, and overall consumer acceptance of the Internet as a source for health information have helped to breathe new life into the health information category,” said John Mangano, senior director, comScore Pharmaceutical Marketing Solutions. “Most sites have become vibrant online communities rooted in sharing experiences and advice, rather than simply being one-way information resources for the consumer. As Google and Microsoft ramp up efforts with their respective health sites, Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, it will be interesting to see how the category continues to evolve.”

Does anyone know of comparable research for Australia? Would love to see it.

Enough health information, already!

Searching for healthcare information has consistently ranked among the most popular search activities on the Web – in fact, in the case of aging baby boomers, it ranks at the top of all Web activities, even higher than using email. So does that mean it has reached saturation point?

eMarketer reports on a new study by Harris Interactive that finds the number of adult Internet users searching for health information has plateaued. It reports: “Harris said that changes in its survey methodology could account for the dip, but its overall finding was that growth in the percentage of adult Internet users who looked for health information online had leveled off.”

It is not believed this is a reflection in the quality of the information. Harris found that “respondents were largely credulous about the health information they found online: 86% of online health searchers said the information they located on the Internet was reliable.”

So doctors will not get a reprieve of patients researching their symptoms on the Internet before fronting up to their surgery!