Accessing health information

A plug for subscription:

Giving patients good health information isn’t profitable—but soon it will be

It’s tough to remember, but ten years ago nobody paid for information on the internet. If you pulled out your credit card in front of your computer it was because you were buying something physical. But these days we’re all used to paying for good information—it’s common to have subscriptions to the New York Times, Consumer Reports, podcasts, and any number of niche Substacks.

Despite this trend, today’s popular medical sites are still stuck in the past: WebMD, Healthline, Everyday Health, and the rest are all ad-supported. This works when you’ve reached the scale that these companies operate at, but an ad-based model is really hard to bootstrap—which might explain the dearth of new WebMD competitors!

The author uses this prelude to push his website on COVID-19 information. While it’s easier for anyone to access it otherwise, use specific filters and Boolean operators on PubMed to push out updates (in the form of newsletters). I can do that in less five minutes. However, the trick is to first create a scarcity mindset, berate the mainstream options, and then use that to convince users to pay up.

Paying is easier to consume information; taking time out to understand these nuances is “difficult”. Broadly, however, I agree with the author that mainstream “health information” is heavily SEO’d and these pages usually rank higher in Google searches. That’s why they have a recall and burnish their credentials to get “donations”.

Highly avoidable, though.

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