– Health Care is more than a US concern

It’s always easy to think of the United States as the greatest market in the world, and ignore the rest of the world (except maybe our Canadian cousins) as we develop businesses and web sites.  Often the next step is to simply clone the US site overseas, sometimes successfully, but often with poor results as the Ugly American syndrome raises its head.  And for those businesses that can really help people improve their lives, e.g. health care, there are added problems when local issues are ignored.

So I’m really pleased to announce First Round Capital’s investment in the just launched web site.  Elan Dekel, a former Google Executive with extensive international experience, connected with us last summer and described his concept of bringing locally sensitive health care information to the rest of the world.  More than just WebMD for non-US, it would include the community and local health care providers, along with local language information, and local disease related information.  Today’s launch is in Spanish, targeted at Spain, and later the Latin American markets.  By the end of this year, several other markets including India will be launched. 

In each market, strives to find physicians who can answer questions and direct consumers to relevant information.  There are already thousands of articles on the site, a twitter stream @Medico, and communities for key diseases (heart, diabetes, etc.) . One of the interesting drivers to our investment was finding out that is one of the most heavily trafficked web sites from outside the US (for health information).  There are also many countries where information about pregnancy care, STDS, etc.  are hidden because of cultural biases that often prevent women from getting this information at home or in schools.  Here can provide truly life saving information.  And by later this year, it will also be on our mobile platforms, which dominate internet access in many countries.

Together with our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Julian Fisher, a neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, a member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty and a pioneer in health care information on the internet, Elan has built a strong international team.  If medico can give people around the world the information and tools to become well-informed and take control of driving their health care, this will have been a worthwhile investment. Of course, our hope is to do exceptionally well while doing good; the business case looks very good.