Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Web site lets users search for, share health information

New Web site lets users search for, share health information   

Pharma companies could be among the first sponsors of a Web site that says it is the first health-focused social networking site. allows consumers, healthcare professionals, and health organizations share their knowledge about more than 6,500 health topics. Users can search for information about health topics, and if a particular health topic does not yet have a sponsor, links will appear that invite sponsors to "be the first to sponsor this page." Content is divided into information from the site's health library or from the online community. For example, a search about headaches can either yield doctor-reviewed informational content or tips and feedback from other members of the community about their experiences with headaches.        

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Epharm 5: Online breast cancer community offers pharma sponsorship opps

Online breast cancer community offers pharma sponsorship opps  

A new online community for women with breast cancer allows members to develop personal Web banners to express their individual fight against the disease, according to Incendia Health Studios, the company behind the site. Users can create personal profile pages and display their banners the site, The banners also will appear on WebMD's breast cancer channel through October. The site is currently in an exclusive partnership with WebMD, but will eventually expand beyond that, Fabio Gratton, president of Incendia Health Studios, tells ePharm5. is currently in talks with several pharmas about the chance to reach cancer patients and their families, as well as participate in the dialogue that a social networking site offers. Incendia Health Studios is a new media company that develops and distributes unbranded disease education programs via the Web and other digital technologies (ePharm5, 10/2/06).

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Digital Diagnosis reveals deficiencies in pharma brand Web sites

Digital Diagnosis reveals deficiencies in pharma brand Web sites is among the most user-friendly pharma Web sites, according to new analysis from Campbell-Ewald Health. A first-of-its-kind audit tool analyzed the content of 58 consumer Web sites from across nine therapeutic categories. The Digital Diagnosis audit found that only 55% of the United States population can understand the information provided on pharma Web sites. Lori Laurent Smith, senior vice president and director of Campbell-Ewald Health, tells ePharm5 that there are several steps that pharmas can take to improve the functionality of their branded sites. Click the supporting link below to read those tips, find out which branded sites performed best, and get more results from the Campbell-Ewald Health audit.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Freedom of the Seas

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Cartoon Lips, Virtual Fashion and Physics

Cartoon Lips, Virtual Fashion and Physics

The interactive Web site Whyville lures girls into the world of science

Times Staff Writer

July 8 2002

The mysterious spots began popping up without explanation on the digital faces of Whyvillians.

At first, the spots looked like freckles on the cartoon-like avatars of visitors to the science education Web site called Whyville. Then they developed into red acne-like welts. When users tried to chat, an electronic "ah-choo," courtesy of the site's San Marino-based programmers, wiped out their words.

Dubbed "Whypox," the plague was designed to trigger an interest in learning more about epidemiology and the spread of diseases. And it proved to be a terrific motivator on a site dominated by adolescent girls who are as image-obsessed in cyberspace as they are in the hallways of their junior high schools.

It also was an example of why an innovative attempt to mine the educational potential of the Internet is gaining international attention among adolescents and researchers alike.

The philosophy of Whyville ( is what its founder calls "edu-tainment" because it taps the Internet's interactivity to get kids engaged in learning.

Some close watchers of Whyville worry, however, that users get so wrapped up in activities such as choosing lips and noses for their digital faces and chatting that science becomes secondary to socializing. Yet researchers also theorize that those aspects of Whyville help explain why more than two-thirds of its 225,000 registered users are female, most between 11 and 13.

That statistic "runs very counter to what we know about girls being interested in science and technology," said Yasmin B. Kafai, a UCLA researcher who studies computerized learning environments.

Educators say many girls lose interest in science starting in middle school, apparently because of misgivings about their math abilities and fears that they'll be seen as unfashionable nerds.

Computer use among girls drops off dramatically after age 13, experts say, citing a dearth of games and activities that don't involve speed, fighting or competition.

Whyville, launched in 1999, didn't start out with the intention of countering those trends. But its apparent success in capturing girls' attention has caught the eye of the National Science Foundation, which over the years has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to achieve that same goal.

Now the agency is underwriting a study to figure out the formula and how it can be improved upon in designing computer software, and even in setting up classrooms.

Caltech's Brian Foley, one of the researchers, says Whyville's winning combination includes noncompetitive games and activities, social interaction and, especially, the opportunity for girls (and boys) to create their own identities. "Those are things girls really appreciate and look for," Foley said. "It probably shouldn't have been a surprise that there were a lot of girls on there."

About 500 new users a day join Whyville's population. Although it's free and has no advertising, those willing to buy a Whypass for $4.95 a month get priority for accessing the site. That's important because Whyville has become so crowded that, for about 12 hours each day, more users want in than can be accommodated.

Those who succeed in entering see the face they've designed float into the 3-D Whyville town square. They can remain and chat with other users or they can visit popular gathering spots such as the town swimming pool, the "Sportsplatz" or the playground.

Or they can go shopping at the "mall"--a hugely popular activity on the site--for new face parts, virtual clothing or accessories, such as glasses or jewelry for their online persona, all drawn and "sold" by their fellow Whyvillians.

The coin of this realm is "clams," and they're earned in two ways: by engaging in one of the Web site's 12 science or four math activities or through profits generated by the sales of one's products. A third way--which Whyvillians came up with on their own--is for "newbies" to beg for handouts from the better-off "oldbies." Once someone has enough clams, she can buy a plot of land, build a house, decorate it and have friends over for chat fests.

One goal of the NSF study is to analyze how much the citizens of Whyville are actually learning about science through all those activities.

"Is it entertainment as a means of learning or is it just entertaining?" asked Ruta Sevo, who directs the NSF's program for gender equity in math- and science-related fields. "I doubt that no learning is happening, but the question is how much."

Consider the case of Whypox.

Just after Valentine's Day, the site's designers at Numedeon Inc., a privately held company, infected the online identities of a handful of the most frequent users with the pox. They also posted a memo on the site's bulletin board suggesting that users check out " 'what's new' at the Whyville version of the national Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention]."

From there, the pox spread through contact. And as it did, so did rumors and panic. "I became sad and horrified," wrote one user, screen name Girlyleo, in an article posted on the site's online newspaper.

Soon pox-free Whyvillians were shunning the infected. Deviously enterprising users began offering fake cures. A lively trade in skin-colored digital cover-ups and paper bags with eyeholes emerged.

"I hated Whypox," said Jessica Ruane, 12, of Westwood, who averages about two hours a day on the Whyville site. "It stayed, like, five days, and you get, like, pox all over your face."

But, whether or not she liked it, Jessica wanted to figure out what was going on. So she visited the site's faux CDC Web page to investigate.

There she encountered a simulation of how disease spreads, a real-time graph of how many Whyvillians had been infected and links to an actual newspaper article about a wave of real unexplained rashes affecting East Coast schools.

"I read everything about it and I was like, 'Oh!' " Jessica said.

Several hundred Whyville users then entered a contest to guess when the epidemic would come to an end, using the knowledge they'd gained.

James N. Bower, a bearded, ponytailed former Caltech neurobiologist who is the guiding force and one of the biggest investors in Numedeon, said he is convinced that Whyville's informal, indirect approach to education is effective.

"There's nothing more entertaining than education, done properly," said Bower, who this spring left Pasadena for San Antonio, where he has a joint appointment at the University of Texas and its health sciences campus.

"Knowledge attained through an active process of sorting through data and connecting that to what you already know is knowledge that sticks," he added.

Most Web sites for children focus on either entertainment or the traditional educational format in which users answer questions based on posted texts. Worried about liability, the majority have banned chat and are tightly formatted by adults.

Whyville, in contrast, is an open-ended learning community that evolves day to day. Users, for example, helped design the site's justice system (those who swear or annoy can be zapped into invisibility), write for its newspaper (one popular topic is the ongoing rivalry between "newbies" and "oldbies") and even set up a charity to distribute face parts to the less fortunate. (It's considered bad taste to take too many free parts.)

A user whose screen name is "link123" summed it up in an article in the Whyville Times, concluding that Whyville is "more than an educational site! It's a lifestyle simulation."

Bower is a pioneer in the field of computational biology, which involves devising mathematical models to represent biological processes. But he has also been a vocal advocate of getting schools to replace textbook-based lessons with "hands on" kits. So, for example, kids would plant seeds, watch them grow and discuss what they saw rather than read about it in a book.

Frustrated by his efforts to reform science education in real-world classrooms, Bower helped to create Whyville. One of its science-based activities involves making an animated skater spin as fast as possible to learn the basics of angular momentum, namely, that the more compact an object is, the faster it can be made to spin. Completing the site's "Solstice Safari" gives participants a feel for how and why the seasons change, and the "Geodig" calls for categorizing rocks by their characteristics.

The connection to formal scientific or mathematical knowledge is not often explicit. When users choreograph a dance routine, "we don't tell them, but what they're actually doing is learning about vectors using the Cartesian system," Bower said.

It's clear that not all users go to the site primarily to learn about science.

Jessica Ruane comes from a scientific family. Her father, Peter Ruane, is a well-known HIV-AIDS researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and her mother, Margie Morgan, is a microbiologist who runs the hospital's diagnostic clinic.

But, Morgan said, Jessica is bored by classroom science at her private school.

That's why Morgan was shocked--and impressed--with how much time Jessica spends in Whyville. "It's a very effective mechanism for entertaining kids, and I have a daughter who's not easy to entertain," she said.

She has straight dark hair and freckles and was wearing her school uniform when she sat down one day recently at her dad's computer to visit Whyville. By contrast, her computer avatar has highlighted red hair, large purplish lips, pink cheeks and a beauty mark and wears a slinky black sheath.

She checked her store's inventory of body parts. She's nowhere near the most prolific seller of face parts. But she does well enough, especially with "raspberry glossy lips." "If you want to make money, you want to make lips," she said, hinting at the fashion sense of her fellow Whyville citizens.

On average, Whyvillians visit the site three times weekly, for about 45 minutes each session, and participate in 6.7 science activities per week. At any one time, about a third of the users are chatting and the rest are engaged in activities that, in addition to those involving science, include shopping, working on their houses and redesigning their faces.

"They spend so much time on their faces, I wonder if that's a good thing," Foley said.

Jessica Ruane said the site's science-related activities are not challenging. But she does them anyway because they earn her more clams.

Other users, however, exclaim that Whyville has made learning science fun in a way that textbooks or classrooms never have. "Wow! I honestly can't believe how much we learn from this site, and how much of the learning we take for granted," a user with the screen name of Maiko wrote in the site newspaper. "Just because it's fun doesn't mean it's not educational!"

In response to some of the concerns, Whyville's designers are introducing new elements that are more explicitly educational. This summer, for example, nutrition will begin playing a role in appearance.

Users will have to spend some of their clams on food. And they'll find that if they buy only hamburgers and French fries and not enough fruits and vegetables, their carefully designed faces will begin to fade and look sickly.

Kafai, the UCLA professor, said the kind of informal learning that occurs in an environment such as Whyville is difficult to quantify. "There's a fine line between knowing something in a vague sort of way but not being able to use it ... and not knowing very much at all," she said.

Still, she said, what occurs in Whyville represents a promising start. "Obviously, this is a new medium, and we have to work and explore what works," she said.
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BREAKING NEWS: Incendia Health Studios Supports National Breast Cancer Awareness Month With Launch of

Incendia Health Studios Supports National Breast Cancer Awareness Month With Launch of
Wednesday October 4, 11:29 am ET

Site Builds Online Community of Women With Breast Cancer; Conveys Inspiring Messages Through Personal Web Banners

IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Oct. 1-31), Incendia Health Studios, the first purpose-driven media company in chronic disease education, has launched, an interactive Web site designed to create a growing online circle of support for women with breast cancer.

A unique feature of the site is a proprietary tool developed by Incendia that allows visitors to develop personal web banners that can be used to express individual messages about their fight against breast cancer. The banners, which will appear on the BannerMoments site permanently and on the breast cancer channel of WebMD through the end of October, are designed to trigger discussions of breast cancer from many points of view.

"When you create a Web banner, you start your own personal advocacy campaign," says Fabio Gratton, president of Incendia Health Studios. "BannerMoments gives people a place to share their own experiences with breast cancer as well as a place to provide support to family and friends who are battling the disease. Knowledge is power and it all starts with a simple conversation. By building a banner, a single individual can make a powerful contribution to the fight against breast cancer."

In addition to generating customized web banners, visitors to are given the opportunity to create a conversation-starting personal profile page, which explores their thoughts on breast cancer more thoroughly. They are also provided with links to more than 30 breast cancer information resources.

"We've spent many months developing a web property that would offer users a creative outlet for self-expression and we want this site to be the genesis of a whole new kind of online dialogue," says Gratton. "With the banner tools we've pioneered, users can add their own image, add their own message, and then choose from a huge assortment of art elements to create innumerable banner possibilities. It's a shining example of how technology can empower online communities."

From a business perspective, BannerMoments presents compelling sponsorship opportunities for companies interested in reaching cancer patients and their extended families and friends. In coming months, Incendia plans to use the BannerMoments concept to generate patient-driven discussion in other disease categories.

"We are in talks with a number of pharmaceutical companies that see this as an opportunity to help give patients a voice," says Gratton. "There has been a lot of discussion around social networks and how companies can participate in the dialogue. BannerMoments provides a vehicle for doing just that, without promoting product-specific information or trying to influence the conversation."

About Incendia Health Studios

Incendia Health Studios, which was founded by healthcare advertising agency Ignite Health, is the first and only 'purpose-driven' media company in the field of chronic disease education. The company develops and distributes unbranded disease-education content targeting the millions of people who use the Internet and other digital technologies to seek and share information on chronic diseases. Focusing on diseases that include HIV, cancer, hepatitis B and diabetes, Incendia projects are funded by advertising, sponsorships and grants, but do not promote specific products or services.

For details on becoming a sponsor of, call (949) 861-3202. For additional information about Incendia Health Studios, visit

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Online Ad Spend Achieves Double-Digit Share in Two Markets, Surpasses Outdoor Globally

Online Ad Spend Achieves Double-Digit Share in Two Markets, Surpasses Outdoor Globally

The internet is about to overtake outdoor as the fifth-largest global ad medium this year, is closing in on fourth-place radio, and has achieved a first in two countries, according to the quarterly revision of ZenithOptimedia's global ad tracking study.

Internet ad spend is forecast by Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia to achieve - for the first time in any major market - double-digit market share this year in two countries, the U.K. (12.9 percent) and Sweden (10.5 percent), writes MediaPost. Moreover, the agency now forecasts an 84 percent increase in internet ad spend from 2005 to 2008 - an upward revision from last quarter's 76 percent estimate.

Despite such growth, only in 2011 is internet ad spend forecast to achieve double-digit share globally. Online ad spend share worldwide is anticipated to reach 5.7 percent in 2006 and 7.3 percent in 2008, when in several other countries online ad spend market share is expected to reach double-digits, including Australia, Israel, Japan, Norway, South Korea and Taiwan.

Overall, ZenithOptimedia expects global ad spend to grow 6.0 percent this year (5.2 percent in the U.S.), 5.4 percent in 2007 (U.S., 4.2 percent) and 5.9 percent in 2008 (U.S., 4.3 percent).

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Online disease ed programs offer pharma sponsorship opps

Online disease ed programs offer pharma sponsorship opps

Pharmas can target consumers online with Incendia Health Studios, a new media company that develops and distributes unbranded disease education programs via the Web and other digital technologies. Several companies are already working on programs about HIV, diabetes, hepatitis B, and cancer, Fabio Gratton, president of Incendia Health Studios, tells ePharm5. According to Gratton, there are several ways in which pharma can play a role in the programs. For example, Incendia can develop original programs based on a company's specific educational objectives, or pharmas can provide educational grants or ad placements. Gratton says the content will be distributed in a variety of channels, including destination Web sites, paid search, banners, e-mail, iTunes, YouTube, and other content aggregators. The Incendia Health Studios is part of Incendia Health, a healthcare ad agency whose clients include Eli Lilly and Gilead Sciences.

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Discovery Health Empowers Consumers to Take Control of Their Health and Wellness With New Online Resources at

Discovery Health Empowers Consumers to Take Control of Their Health and Wellness With New Online Resources at

PR Newswire via NewsEdge Corporation :

SILVER SPRING, Md., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Discovery Health Media Enterprises unveiled an expanded offering of online consumer resources today with an exciting slate of new features for its popular online site, The website features more than 35 health centers, including a new "Healthy Living" section, as well as enhanced search functions for health and wellness information on the Web. also introduces a new 24-hour broadband channel, Discovery Health Beyond. Launching with more than 500 short-form video clips, Discovery Health Beyond showcases everything from expert advice, tips and chats to exclusive content highlighting news and trends in health care today.

"Today's consumers are more proactive about their health care needs, and technology is there to better serve them," said Len Tacconi, president, Discovery Health Media. "When searching for information on health and wellness, consumers look for sources they trust, presented with the features only the Web can provide -- quality content, streaming video and podcasts, expert advice and a virtual community. delivers these benefits by dispensing independent health and wellness information that is real and relevant to the needs of people today."'s 35 health centers are dedicated to specific diseases and conditions, as well as health topics such as wellness, fitness and nutrition, pregnancy and parenting and sex and relationships. The health centers feature in-depth editorial and high-quality video and audio segments that equip consumers with the information they need to feel mentally prepared, emotionally supported and physically able to tackle the joys and challenges of life. expands its current offering beyond the state of medicine and condition centers with the "Healthy Living" section, which focuses on wellness and the creation of a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit. "Healthy Living" features new information from some familiar faces at Discovery Health, including senior medical correspondent Dr. Mehmet Oz and chief medical correspondent for nutrition and fitness Dr. Pamela Peeke. The center also introduces two new wellness correspondents, natural living expert Sara Snow and lifestyle guru Dan Ho. Their two new primetime series launching in January are GET FRESH WITH SARA SNOW and THE DAN HO SHOW.

In GET FRESH (Premieres Thursday, January 4, at 8 PM ET/PT), Sara shows accessible ways to make natural living everyday living through the food you buy, the clothes you wear and the products you use. Sara's philosophy focuses on the small things you can do to create a healthier life.

A fun and refreshing new primetime series that demonstrates how simplification can lead to a healthy body and soul, THE DAN HO SHOW (Premieres Thursday, January 4, at 9 PM ET/PT) illustrates that success in the home, health and happiness stem from your spirit. Applying his unique, offbeat personality, Dan shows viewers how to create style from their inner spirit through segments on cooking, health and decorating.

The newest of Discovery Communications' broadband channels, Discovery Health Beyond, accessible from the home page, goes beyond fan sites to serve consumers who are looking to better manage their health and wellness with extensive, thought-provoking content and interactive community features. Upcoming highlights include Discovery Health Beyond's original short programming featuring His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, with advice on longevity and optimal health. The Dalai Lama shares his views on the new revolution in Western science that integrates Eastern and Western perspectives as they pertain to longevity, regeneration and health.

As part of the site enhancement, has entered into a partnership with Kosmix, a leading search engine company. Kosmix is unique in that it allows consumers to refine their health-related search in a well- organized, targeted way. will incorporate Kosmix Health search results into the website.

In addition to the Kosmix partnership, continues to provide exclusive content through Discovery Health's established relationships with the most credible organizations in the health and medical community, including the American Heart Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes and the American Diabetes Association.


Built upon a highly trusted brand, Discovery Health Media provides access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for research tools, expert advice and customized products and services to give consumers the most relevant and credible health and medical information. Discovery Health Media is comprised of the Discovery Health Channel and FitTV television networks and online assets including, as well as its Continuing Medical Education (CME) business. This October, the new unit will launch Discovery's first stand-alone VOD service, Discovery Health On-Call, as an additional media platform.


Discovery Communications, Inc. is the leading global real-world media company with operations in 170 countries and territories reaching 1.4 billion cumulative subscribers. DCI's over 100 networks of distinctive programming represent 28 trusted brands including Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet. DCI's other properties consist of Discovery Education and COSMEO, a revolutionary online homework help service, as well as Discovery Commerce, which operates more than 100 Discovery Channel Stores in the U.S. Discovery brings the real world to the whole world through its global multiplatform initiatives including Discovery Travel Media, Discovery Mobile and multiple broadband services. DCI's ownership consists of four shareholders: Discovery Holding Company (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB), Cox Communications, Inc., Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, the Company's Founder and Chairman. More information about Discovery and its businesses can be found at

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LimeLife Announces New Online Destination for Mobile Content Designed for Women

LimeLife Announces New Online Destination for Mobile Content Designed for Women

Market Wire via NewsEdge Corporation :

MENLO PARK, CA, September 12 / MARKET WIRE/ --

LimeLife, Inc., the only mobile consumer software publisher focused exclusively on content for women, today announced the launch of its new online destination at The direct-to-consumer site extends the ways in which women can discover and purchase mobile content, including a wide selection of fashion wallpapers, subscriptions to lifestyle text messages, and a variety of entertaining games.

"We recognize the web's important role in driving women's awareness of mobile content," said Kristin McDonnell, CEO, LimeLife. "According to our survey, 30% of women who have downloaded content to their phones learned about that content through the web, making it one of the top three channels for discovery. In addition, over 30% of women who haven't downloaded mobile content say they cannot find any that appeals to them. With a focus on women's mobile lifestyles, LimeLife is leading the way by targeting the large untapped market of female consumers and introducing them to more ways to use their mobile phones."

In August 2006, reached several hundred thousand monthly visitors, making it one of the most highly trafficked sites among mobile content publishers. LimeLife is marketing the new web site to female consumers in a number of ways including online advertising, search engine marketing, coverage in women's consumer magazines, targeted e-mails, and innovative promotional campaigns with wireless carriers and major consumer brands such as Procter & Gamble.

Industry approval continues from IDC (which named LimeLife as one of "Ten Emerging Wireless Players to Watch in 2006") where Scott Ellison, Program Director of Wireless and Mobile Communications, said: "Our research has found that women are early adopters of mobile content but have been underserved in a number of categories. LimeLife's expanded web site functionality and product offerings are important next steps in filling the void."

For women interested in stylish wallpapers, useful and fun text messages, and popular games, LimeLife now offers the following:

--  Daily Dose(TM): Daily text messages delivered to your cell phone     everyday. Women can select and purchase the channels that best reflect     their interests:     --  Celestial Reasonings, irreverent girlfriend-style horoscopes     --  VitaminMe!, inspiring "me" text vitamins for your head, heart and         spirit     --  Beauty, fresh beauty-wise messages for real women     --  Health, Diet and Fitness, body-smart reminders to be your best self     --  Career and Your Cash, success tips and tricks to keep work and         money under control     --  Love & Sex, all the love and romance you can handle     --  Pregnancy, healthy baby, peaceful mind tips for the mommy-to-be     --  Cat's Meow, adoring kitty messages and helpful tips for your furry         feline     --  Dogs Rule, making every day a fun and funny dog-day afternoon  --  Fashion Wallpapers: Cell phone wallpaper inspired by the latest fashion     trends. Women can satisfy their sense of style (or mood!) with retro     florals, crisp stripes and modern urban graphics and purchase directly     through the LimeLife web site or Verizon's VZW Pix.  --  Fun Mobile Games: Women can de-stress and have fun playing LimeLife's     popular game offerings including:      --  Girls Night Out(TM) Solitaire     --  Girls Night Out(TM) Blackjack     --  Hollywood Hangman     --  Word Heaven(TM) 

About LimeLife, Inc.

LimeLife, Inc., based in Menlo Park, California, is the only publisher of wireless content and applications exclusively focused on the women's market. LimeLife's products are based on unique insights about what women seek in mobile entertainment experiences derived from the company's proprietary research conducted with women ages 15+. LimeLife's products include wireless games, wallpapers and daily text messages, with lifestyle tools coming soon. LimeLife distributes its mobile applications through the company's relationships with multiple wireless carriers, including Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless as well as from the company's direct-to-consumer web site at LimeLife also highlights a unique content partnership with Time, Inc., for four mobile software titles based on Time's top-tier magazine properties.

For more information about LimeLife's ever-expanding product portfolio and ways to reach female mobile consumers, visit

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Amgen doing VIDEO ADVERTISING online

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HealthiNation Launches 'Free to Consumer' Website With Interactive Video

HealthiNation Launches 'Free to Consumer' Website With Interactive Video

PrimeZone via NewsEdge Corporation :

NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- HealthiNation, a health education network, has launched video programming at The network, spelled with an "i" for independence, was created to provide an in-depth and entertaining health learning experience through short-format videos covering topics like cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, women's health and health insurance. The Internet launch complements the HealthiNation video on demand service on select digital cable channels.

"We developed our videos so people can learn about important health topics easily and at their own pace to improve the dialogue they have with their doctors," said Raj Amin, President and Co-Founder of HealthiNation. "The Internet is where many people are looking for health information and is a great place for us to empower people to take a more active role in their health and the health of their families."

The network takes an innovative approach to health education by explaining medical conditions in familiar terms and featuring 3D bio-animation sequences of how the body works. HealthiNation's videos are produced independently and reviewed by their medical advisory team that includes respected physicians from a variety of fields of medicine, many of whom have been featured on major national TV outlets.

HealthiNation's programming also centers on everyday people who share their personal experiences about what helped them manage their medical condition, as well as celebrities who are connected to certain conditions. One segment features baseball pitcher Curt Schilling and his wife Shonda, who give a personal account of her successful battle with skin cancer.

"We wanted to share our experience with others so that people understand that skin cancer can happen to anyone," said Curt Schilling, whose wife Shonda created the Shade Foundation to help drive awareness for the condition. "HealthiNation gave us a great way to get our message across to even more people, so that they can take the steps to avoid this serious disease."

On top of its growing library of health topics, HealthiNation focuses on monthly awareness campaigns such as a breast cancer segment and home breast self-exam segment in conjunction with October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"HealthiNation's breast cancer and home breast self-exam videos remove the mystery from this condition and give viewers the information to prevent, detect and treat breast cancer," said Dr. Holly G. Atkinson, one of the physician experts appearing on HealthiNation.

HealthiNation's online presence is complemented by the network's programming available to Insight Communication's digital customers in all markets with Video On Demand services on Channel 99 in The Free Spot. Additional cable and broadband partners will be added later this year.

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Unbranded Merck Web site, podcasts plug hair loss education

Unbranded Merck Web site, podcasts plug hair loss education

Merck, which makes the hair-loss drug Propecia, has a new unbranded Web site devoted to male pattern hair loss. The site, , stresses the importance of visiting a doctor about the condition, and every page includes links to a ZIP code-enabled doctor finder. The site also aims to debunk myths about hair loss and features a light-hearted section about myths and facts, and audio and video podcasts available on the site feature a leading physician discussing the causes of hair loss. Users can subscribe to the free podcast series through iTunes or other podcast software. The site also includes a definition of what a podcast is--a feature that we at ePharm5 have not seen on other pharma sites that offer podcasts, but one that is likely to help consumers who have not yet adopted the technology. Did we miss a unique feature on your site?


E-mail the editor and let us know!


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Monday, October 02, 2006

The Web Returns to Health

The Web Returns to Health
'The Last Frontier' on Internet Draws Big Names and Their Money

By Annys Shin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 8, 2006; D01

Ninety-five million Americans -- about 80 percent of online adults -- have searched the Web for health information in the past year, and the overwhelming majority have been disappointed.

More than 70 percent of those searchers either did not find what they were looking for or had a hard time knowing what to believe, according to market research studies by Jupiter Research and Yankelovich Inc.

That frustration has attracted some famous deep pockets, including America Online co-founder Steve Case, his former employer Time Warner Inc., the Carlyle Group and Allen & Co. Together, they have put more than $100 million into building virtual destinations that offer consumers something beyond disease encyclopedias.

Some want to make it as easy to choose a doctor as a restaurant. Others eventually hope to offer "virtual assisted living" by monitoring medicines or pacemakers remotely, so the elderly can stay in their homes longer.

"The health category is the last frontier where the Internet has not yet transformed that industry, the way it has done for travel, finance, and commerce," Wayne T. Gattinella, chief executive of WebMD Health Corp., said.

Harnessing the Web to make health care more user-friendly has been a holy grail for entrepreneurs since the earliest days of the dot-com boom. But like many online content businesses, they failed because they could not figure out how to make money.

"The mistake that's been made by a lot of entrepreneurs who have pushed those approaches was an 'if we build it they will come' philosophy," said Jay Savan, a benefits consultant in the St. Louis office of Towers Perrin.

Some sites, such as relied too heavily on advertising revenue. Named for the former U.S. surgeon general C. Everett Koop, it was worth more than $1 billion at one point, but went out of business in 2001 not long after going public. Its assets -- mainly Internet domain names -- were later sold for $186,000 in bankruptcy court. It is now owned by the HealthCentral Network, an Arlington-based company that is part of the second wave of health information Web businesses.

The dominant player in the field, 10-year-old WebMD, survived by merging with Healtheon, founded in 1996 by Netscape co-founder Jim Clark. He saw the Internet as the best way to bring doctors and patients together and "get all the other [jerks] out of the way." The combined company, which also delved into insurance claims processing, physician practice management software and plastics, did not post a profit until 2003.

The nearly $2 trillion health-care industry remains as fragmented and frustrating as ever. But the market for online health information and services has changed enough to make it a viable business, investors, entrepreneurs and analysts said.

A May 2005 Pew Internet & American Life Project study -- which reported that about 95 million people have searched the Web for health information -- found more people were turning to the Web for information about diet, exercise and over-the-counter drugs. They also do more "health homework" online, such as comparing physicians and hospitals.

"The consumer is starting to expect the same information with respect to a health provider as they expect with an airline or investment vehicle," Gattinella said. "Those are the big forces that will accelerate changes in our industry in the next five years."

It will still be a while yet before finding a heart surgeon is as easy as booking an airline ticket on Orbitz or Travelocity.

"I don't see we're at an inflection point because there is still major limitation on quality information available . . . [and] still limitations on cost information. Those limitations on data are not about to disappear," said Paul Ginsberg, president of Health System Change, a non-partisan research organization in Washington.

But with out-of-pocket medical expenses rising faster than family income, and a small but rapidly growing number of the insured turning to health-savings accounts and high-deductible health plans, consumers have begun shopping around, if not for the best hospital for coronary bypass graft surgery, then at the very least for prescription drugs.

Just as important as changing consumer habits, advertisers are also spending more money on Web ads.

WebMD spun off last year in a successful initial public offering and has seen its ad revenue grow. Last week, it reported a narrower second-quarter loss of $1.16 million, down from $1.5 million a year earlier. Advertising contributed to a 38 percent revenue increase.

As a result, big-name investors are once again bankrolling health information Web sites.

Time Warner has sunk money into Waterfront Media, a four-year-old Brooklyn publisher of self-help information founded by Ben Wolin and Michael Keriakos, two former executives with spirituality and faith Web site Beliefnet.

Unlike three years ago, when money for Internet start-ups was harder to come by, the company this past year raised $6 million from several sources, including Time Warner, to build The site, set to launch later this year, will deliver personalized health information, even by phone or personal digital assistant, to more than 11 million people who have created profiles on one of Waterfront's existing health-related sites.

The Carlyle Group, Allen & Co., and Sequoia Capital last year invested in HealthCentral Network, formerly ChoiceMedia Inc., which bought a collection of sites created during the dot-com boom and revamped them into a network of 25 condition-specific destinations that offer physician-reviewed information and the ability to connect with ordinary people who have experienced the same illness.

Both HealthCentral Network and Waterfront rely on advertising, and could benefit from a shift among pharmaceutical companies away from television and toward the Web, where they have unlimited time and space to relay such information as side effects.

Revolution Health, probably the most ambitious of WebMD's would-be competitors, is backed by Case and board members/investors such as Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co., Franklin D. Raines, former chairman and chief executive of Fannie Mae, and Stephen Wiggins, founder of Oxford Health Plans.

Its Web portal,, is slated to launch in the fall. Revolution Health plans to offer, in addition to the usual searchable encyclopedia of disease information, tools for finding doctors, making appointments and managing health-related expenses.

What sets Revolution Health apart is its offline investments in walk-in retail clinics at places such as Walgreens and Wal-Mart for minor medical issues, and in insurance providers that offer high-deductible plans directly to consumers.

"It's best to attack this problem through multiple prisms and build a set of services that can attract an audience and can aggregate benefits to those consumers as well as those who want to provide services to those audiences," Case said. plans to make money by selling customized services to employers and health plans, selling advertising and charging membership fees for a suite of premium services, which may include access to better-quality doctors.

"We don't want to be the place you go to when you're not feeling well. We want it to feel more like your buddy list and your portfolio, a service that engages you because it's personalized, several times a day, not several times a year," Case said.

There were rumors earlier this year that Google was also looking into the delving into the online health information business, a development that does not surprise any of the current players.

"I think you'll see several other companies coming into this space because it is such a huge marketplace and so underpenetrated at this point," Martin J. Wygod, chairman of WebMD, told analysts during a May conference call.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company


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