E-Health Dot-Coms' Critical Success Factors

E-Health Dot-Coms' Critical Success Factors

Abrams A. O’Buyonge (Creighton University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-050-9.ch138
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The increasing use of the Internet by consumers gave rise to an information boom to health-care consumers. Not only could the Internet be used as a communication tool to provide information that would allow patients to make informed decisions, but it could also be used to generate revenue for investors. The dot-com boom of the late 1990s exploited this opportunity, targeting the healthcare system, a $1.7 trillion market in the United States alone. Overall, the health-care system is wasteful and costly (Itagaki, Berlin, & Schatz, 2002), and as a result, health-care IT was touted as the magic pill for cutting costs. The Internet boom of the late 1990s saw the emergence of e-health: the delivery of health services and health information through the Internet and Internet-related technologies (Eysenbach, 2001). Leading the many entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who stepped in to seize a piece of the health-care industry cake were WebMD Corp., an online provider of medical information for doctors and consumers in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, and DrKoop.com, an Austin, Texas-born company that later moved to Santa Monica, California, and began doing business as Dr. Koop LifeCare Corp. Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general, had spent over 6 decades in the medical profession. He envisioned the Internet as an opportunity to change the health-care delivery system in order to empower individuals to take charge of their own health care (Musselwhite, 2002). With this vision and his reputation as an advocate for health-care reform, along with the help of two budding entrepreneurs, Don Hackett and John Zacarro, the trio opened a businessto- consumer Internet portal: DrKoop.com. The portal was designed to provide health information to consumers in areas such as chronic illness, food and nutrition, fitness, and medical break- throughs. At the beginning, the Web site was an overwhelming success, receiving a million hits per month after 2 years of operation, and about 4 million unique visitors per month at its peak. The portal included a personal medical-records system that facilitated the cross-referencing of medications for interactions, as well as the storage of medical reports that could then be accessed by both patients and physicians.

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