Boston Business Journal: A TripAdvisor for illness? Healthetreatment sources health insights from the crowd
Media Contact: Erin Mullaney
February 8, 2012 - Boston, MA
Boston-based health information site Healthetreatment is looking to take the lead in the area of "social health," as it seeks to provide solid data and insights from real people about coping with chronic disease and illness. Site co-founder Mike Bennett, who suffers from three chronic conditions himself, says the site has some good traction and is now ready to scale with seed funding.
Since quietly launching in March 2010, Healthetreatment has collected 25,000 ratings of symptoms and treatments from its users, along with nearly 3,000 comments on experiences with the conditions, Bennett said.
Other options for people looking for health information online are message board postings(disorganized and often-questionable) and sites like WebMD that are written by professionals (with no input from actual patients).
Healthetreatment, Bennett said, is founded on the belief that having access to the experiences of others leads to a better understanding of the options, and "more insightful conversations with their doctors."
"There's been a lot written to say, 'When is someone going to develop a Facebook for the health care space.' But I don't think that's the answer," he said. "What I want for Healthetreatment is WebMD meets TripAdvisor - with everything you want to learn from WebMD, but from someone who's been in that situation before."
But the aim is to make the site much more than just anecdotes, Bennett said. The main features of the site are ratings of different treatments; the frequency of prescription for certain medications; and the severity and frequency of different symptoms. User comments are further down on the page.
That's intentional, Bennett said, because the emphasis is on "getting to a place where it's more statistics - quantitative data and qualitative data."
Bennett began working on the startup full-time in October, after Boston travel search startup Goby Technologies, where he was chief revenue officer, was acquired by TeleNav Inc. (His co-founder of the site is not working on the startup full-time and is not being named currently.)
Bennett said he founded the site based on his own experience with trying to get health information from other people who have the same conditions that he has Crohns Disease, chronic hepatitis and pulmonary hypertension. Bennett said he's been evaluated for transplants of his heart, lungs and liver, and has at points lived with an IV strapped to his belt and a central catheter in his chest. He also spent five years on painkillers at one point, he said.
"I've been told by my doctors to look online for information when they exhausted their resources," he said.
Bennett said Healthetreatment has raised some angel money so far (amount undisclosed), and is now looking for a $1 million seed round from angels and micro-VC firms.
Located in an office in Boston's South End, the site is generating a small amount of ad revenue at present, Bennett said. In the future, the site could earn revenue from lead generation and patient recruitment, direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing and providing data to drug developers, he said.
healthetreatment is a privately held online media company that works with patients, caregivers, doctors, educators, and healthcare companies to collect and share information. We have learned from our own medical experiences and those of countless others that there are many different ways to solve problems and improve medical conditions. We believe that sharing insights and information from real patients, doctors and healthcare providers in a transparent way can lead to better health and better lives for so many. That's what we intend to do. Become a game changer today, visit www.healthetreatment.com
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