WebMD undergoes platform redesign

WebMD is conducting a root-and-branch redesign of its platform to allow for greater searchability, incorporation of new technologies like broadband video and new opportunities for advertisers. The revamped consumer site, set to launch later this month, will feature beefed-up search and symptom-check functions, greater personalization based on family health histories, more community features and 1,300 new broadcast-quality videos available through 60-some topical “health and wellness centers.” A redesigned professional site will go live later this year. Eighteen months in the making, it’s the first overhaul of WebMD’s infrastructure since the 1998 launch of the health portal, said president and CEO Wayne Gattinella. “This will enrich the user experience and enable us to incorporate next-generation 2.0 personalization and community applications that our older platform couldn’t support,” said Gattinella. The new platform will boost the site’s ranking in external searches, driving in more traffic, while the improved internal search function will allow advertisers to better segment the WebMD audience and fine-tune messaging based on search terms – for example, distinguishing between caretakers, newly-diagnosed patients and those already in treatment. In addition to advertising opportunities around the symptom-checker, WebMD will also offer preroll spots on its videos. The consumer site will offer a free Personal Health Record service, inviting users to store family health info in a secure, centralized place.