Questions about HealthCentral and the Wellsphere Acquisition

An Open Letter...

Questions about HealthCentral and the Wellsphere Acquisition

HealthCentral Acquires Wellsphere

What is HealthCentral’s mission?

HealthCentral’s mission is to create the best online experiences to help people and their loved ones seeking to improve their health or facing serious health situations to take action on their terms for their needs. These experiences – condition by condition, wellness issue by wellness issue – are built around insights from experts who have lived through similar challenges.

HealthCentral offers useful information and tools to help people learn about health conditions; how to live healthier, fuller lives; and opportunities to stay informed about health topics. HealthCentral helps people with serious and long-term health conditions connect with others who have lived with, or are still living with, a similar situation. HealthCentral encourages community members to share their stories and perspective, and ask and answer questions of each other. People on our sites share insights about treatments and medications; advice about how to talk with friends and family about a health situation; suggestions on questions to ask a physician; and steps to take beyond taking a medication to improve their quality of life. Joining a HealthCentral community also means becoming part of a safe and welcoming environment to be understood by others like you, to vent, and to give and get support.

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Who leads HealthCentral’s experiences?

HealthCentral discussions are mostly led by individuals who have faced a health situation personally as a patient, spouse or parent. They are accomplished writers in their own right. Many of our expert patients also write personal blogs in addition to their contributions on our sites. In addition, many doctors, nurses and other health professionals contribute regularly to our communities by writing articles and answering questions. On one site owned by HealthCentral, TheBody.com – the leading site for people interested in HIV-related issues – a number of question and answer forums are hosted by physicians with deep experience in HIV treatment.

All of HealthCentral’s expert patients bring a unique perspective to living well despite facing a health condition, or how to motivate yourself to live better and improve your health overall. These are experts who care deeply about helping others, and give of their time and themselves to share their knowledge and encourage others to share as well.

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Who is HealthCentral’s leadership team?

HealthCentral’s CEO is Chris Schroeder, a leading voice in the development of high-quality interactive content and interactive marketing. Before creating HealthCentral, Chris was CEO and Publisher of washingtonpost.newsweek interactive, host of washingtonpost.com and newsweek.msnbc.com; and as co-founder and chairman of the Online Publishers Association, the leading association of top quality online content publishers. Chris became interested in the possibility of creating a unique voice on-line around health due in part to health experiences of close friends and family.

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How does HealthCentral make money?

HealthCentral makes money in two ways.

First HealthCentral sells advertising on its websites and on sites owned by other companies who ask HealthCentrla to obtain advertising on their behalf. Generally these are banner advertisements or sponsorships by companies that make medications or medical devices, food or nutritional products, or other companies that want to reach individuals interested in health and wellness topics. HealthCentral does not accept advertising for alcohol, tobacco, or firearms, and work to make sure that products advertised on our sites are appropriate for individuals seeking health information.

Second, HealthCentral makes money by asking consumers who come to our sites if they want to receive information about a particular product or service. People may choose to receive the information because they want to learn more about a health condition, a product – like a nutritional supplement or a new medication, and in some cases, to save money on a product. Consumers opt-in to receive sponsored-information, and when they do so, we explain that information they provide to receive information from an advertiser will be sent to an advertiser sponsoring the program. Consumers may also opt-out from receiving sponsored information.

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Who provides content to HealthCentral sites, and how are they paid?

HealthCentral publishes information from three sources – from individuals HealthCentral contracts with to provide material, from visitors to our sites who contribute their ideas in open community forums, and from providers of professionally-reviewed information about health and wellness topics.

Individuals who contract with HealthCentral to provide material generally are paid for their contributions. Some companies that license content to HealthCentral are paid; some are not. Many non-profit organizations provide information for publication on HealthCentral sites in exchange for links to their sites, or in the interest of distributing their information to a broader audience. Community members who come to our sites, read information, and then post their own ideas are not paid for what they post on our sites.

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HealthCentral recently bought a company called Wellsphere. Why?

Wellsphere is an interesting company, an innovator in on-line health with great potential. Wellsphere’s proprietary technology organizes information about health and wellness topics in the same way that many health consumers think about health questions and search for health information on-line. For example, a lot of health information on-line is organized by a particular disease topic. However, many times health consumers seeking a specific piece of health knowledge may not use the name of a health condition, but rather a symptom or medication in their search. Wellsphere’s technology organizes health information more intuitively – the way consumers ask for health information – and allows HealthCentral to provide health consumers with a richer mix of information from sources across our sites.

Also, Wellsphere has built a network of “health bloggers” to help consumers coming to Wellsphere access a broad range of perspectives on health topics, and to help people who write personal blogs to get their ideas in front of a wider audience of people seeking health and wellness information.

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How does the Wellsphere “Health Bloggers Network” work?

Individuals who write quality blogs relating to health and wellness topics are invited by Wellsphere to join its Health Bloggers Network. Wellsphere republishes their blog postings on Wellsphere.com in exchange for links back to the bloggers’ site. In addition, bloggers receive a profile page on Wellsphere.com highlighting their blog and the topics it covers.

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How do people join the “Health Bloggers Network”?

In the past, Wellsphere invited people who wrote health and wellness-related blogs to join the Health Bloggers Network, thereby allowing Wellsphere to republish blog postings on Wellsphere.com. Wellsphere asked people who wrote on a wide range of topics to join the network including doctors writing about treating patients, moms writing about diet and fitness, people recovering from surgery, and people who have serious illnesses who wrote about their lives. Like other services that republish content, Wellsphere offered these bloggers an easy way to reach a wider audience.

HealthCentral is working to improve the process for bloggers to join the network. Each blogger who joins the network will understand very clearly that after joining, Wellsphere will obtain posts from their personal blog and republish them unchanged on Wellsphere.com. Also, each new member will be able to provide some personal information to appear on a page on Wellsphere profiling their blog.

HealthCentral will invite bloggers to join the network in two ways. First, we will ask people who now write for HealthCentral or Wellsphere to recommend health bloggers whose insights they admire and respect. Second, HealthCentral personnel will recommend blogs with a unique perspective on a health topic to be added to the network. A member of our content production team will review each blog, and based on that review extend a personal invitation to the blog’s author to join the network. We will explain the benefits of joining the network to the blogger, and ensure they understand the terms under which their content will be republished before they accept the invitation.

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Will the “Health Bloggers Network” change under HealthCentral?

HealthCentral believes that the Health Bloggers Network can become a powerful way to help patients and caregivers facing serious health issues to navigate the health system. Insights from those who have faced health crises will be valuable in the upcoming debate over changes in health care more broadly. Over the next few months, HealthCentral will develop capabilities for members of the Health Bloggers Network writing about similar health topics to find each other and organize communities of action around particular health issues, and advocate for changes that benefit patients and caregivers.

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Does HealthCentral or Wellsphere have the right to republish health bloggers’ content forever?

No, health blogger content that has been republished on Wellsphere.com through an automated feed will appear on Wellsphere only as long as the blogger wants it there.

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Will HealthCentral redistribute blogger content brought into Wellsphere to other sites across the web?

HealthCentral does not have plans to redistribute blogger content beyond Wellsphere, but if the company decided to do this, we would first obtain permission from bloggers who wrote that content.

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Does HealthCentral own the right to content posted by visitors to Wellsphere.com or HealthCentral sites forever?

Under the Terms of Use on HealthCentral’s sites, HealthCentral’s users keep their copyright in any content posted by them on a HealthCentral site. However, the HealthCentral Terms of Use also provide that its users grant HealthCentral a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free right to publish and republish information posted by them directly onto HealthCentral sites, whether the information is in the form of an original post by a user, a comment on another user’s post, a question to the community, or an answer to a question posed by another community member. HealthCentral will apply the same Terms of Use going forward to Wellsphere.com.

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Will people who join the Wellsphere Health Bloggers Network get paid for content fed into Wellsphere.com?

HealthCentral is considering a number of ways to help bloggers realize value for their knowledge.

HealthCentral may contract with members of the Health Bloggers Network to write articles specifically for publication on Wellsphere or other HealthCentral sites. Writers will be compensated for these articles as expert patients on other HealthCentral sites are compensated.

HealthCentral will explore new ways to help bloggers realize more value from their personal blogs. For example, HealthCentral may ask a member of the Health Bloggers Network to include links on their pages to sponsorship opportunities arranged by HealthCentral. Bloggers would receive a revenue share from consumers who click from links on their personal blogs and then opt to participate in the sponsorship opportunity. This is similar to the way search engine cost per click arrangements work, adding a new and complementary revenue source for bloggers in the Wellsphere network.

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Will Wellsphere share banner advertising revenue on Wellsphere.com with bloggers who join the Wellsphere Health Bloggers Network?

Currently, there is no banner advertising on Wellsphere.com. HealthCentral expects that in the next few months banner advertising will be added to Wellsphere.com. HealthCentral does not plan to distribute revenue generated by this advertising to every member of the Health Bloggers Network. This is consistent with common practice for websites that incorporate content from community members – revenue from banner advertising is retained by the site’s publisher to offset the cost of operating the website.

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Will HealthCentral own the content that it pays bloggers to produce?

Typically, HealthCentral owns content that it pays someone to write for publication on a HealthCentral site. HealthCentral’s rights to publish or republish content written by an expert patient or blogger are clearly set forth in a contract with each writer and will be clear to the writer before he or she contributes any content (an article, quiz, recipe, etc.) for a HealthCentral site.

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Who do I contact if I have more questions about HealthCentral?

Please e-mail HealthCentral at bloggerquestions@thcn.com.

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Who do I contact to join the Wellsphere Health Bloggers Network?

Please e-mail community@wellsphere.com. A member of the HealthCentral content production team will respond to you to discuss your interest.

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