Healthline Injected With Healthy Dose Of Cash
Healthline Networks, a provider of health information services, on Tuesday said it raised $14 million in a third round of financing led by Investor Growth Capital -- the wholly owned venture capital arm of Investor AB. The round also included strategic financing from GE/NBC Universal's Peacock Equity Fund -- a joint venture between GE Capital's Media, Communications & Entertainment business and NBC Universal -- and Reed Elsevier Ventures.
Healthline plans to use the proceeds from this latest round to expand research and development, along with engineering, sales and network services. It also plans to expand its advertising platform and services.
Last month, ABC News Digital tapped Healthline to provide interactive tools and health information on the network's Web site. The enhanced ABC News health site now provides advanced search technology and content to help people find important information to better manage their health and wellness.
First launched in late 2005, over 40 companies now rely on Healthline's search tools, content and advertising -- delivering information to roughly 100 million people monthly, according to West Shell, chairman and CEO of Healthline Networks.
"We doubled the business and achieved profitability last year," said Shell. "This latest financing ... will accelerate Healthline's growth and scalability."
Other clients include AARP, Aetna, AOL, GE, Health.com, iVillage, United Health Group, U.S. News and World Report and Yahoo, among others.
Amidst a crisis in national health care, consumers say health and related product Web sites are as vital to their well-being as physical interactions with health care providers. That was according to a recent study of 1,350 consumers by direct marketing agency Epsilon, which found that 40% of online consumers use social media for health information -- reading or posting content -- while the frequency of engagement varies widely.
According to the study, individuals who use healthcare social media fall into two broad groups: the 80% who are highly engaged patients, and take active roles in health management; and the 20% who lack confidence to play an active role in their own health.
Among consumers and advertisers, a market for health-related online platforms certainly exists. And it's not only baby boomers visiting health and wellness resources online -- over 50% of young people ages 13-24 are accessing the same information, according to a study released late last year by Ypulse -- an independent media platform for youth media and marketing professionals -- along with nonprofit ISIS, young organization YouthNoise, and market research firm Peanut Labs.
What's more, the health care industry -- historically big advertisers -- continues to move a greater share of ad dollars online, according to recent data from The Nielsen Co.