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WebMD Meets Facebook (and Wikipedia): A Medical Revolution or a Nightmare?

A new healthcare Web site called iMedix has just been launched, and it could revolutionize the way people take care of themselves. Or it might gum up the works further; at this point, it’s hard to tell.

But you have to applaud the effort. A privately funded startup launched by Amir Leitersdorf and Iri Amirav, it allows users to search for relevant medical information, share that information with others, form online communities, and rank the helpfulness of the information they find. Think WebMD + Facebook + Wikipedia.

I am not sure that lack of good online medical information is a big problem today. Whenever there’s a condition I want to research, there’s a plethora of literature available instantly. What iMedix adds, of course, is the communal aspect — which, depending on the situation, may result in a valuable transfer of information and experience, or might result in a worldwide web of misinformation and panic. I am very much rooting for the former, and for iMedix to succeed. (Here’s a brief writeup at TechCrunch.) How do you think it will play out?

If you are worried about how iMedix may support itself, you can stop. In its press release, the company is impressively transparent about creating a direct-to-consumer advertising channel: “iMedix will utilize its technology and services to connect pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and medical organizations with highly targeted consumers in the rapidly growing market of online healthcare.” Among all of iMedix’s innovations, this may turn out to be the most potent.