The U.S. health-care industry is an unpleasant subject for many Americans. It's not surprising when you consider that across the country approximately 45 million people are uninsured. A majority of them are entrepreneurs: Among uninsured workers, nearly 63 percent are self-employed or work in small firms, according to Todd Stottlemyer, president of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Online guru and AOL founder Steve Case thinks he can do something about those statistics. He has personally invested $100 million to create Revolution Health, a website with the goal of offering free, comprehensive health and medical information to the masses. The site integrates elements like social networking and personalization to make it a place people can visit to interact with other consumers and share information. Expert advice is also available for users with concerns about certain symptoms or prescriptions.
We spoke with Case about his mission to strengthen the health-care industry, his future business endeavors and his secret to entrepreneurial success.
Entrepreneur.com: Why did you decide to get involved in the health-care industry?
Case: I chose health for several reasons. First, I believe that the health-care system in this country is a mess. Health care is one of the largest industries in this country--it represents one-sixth of the nation's economy--yet it's fundamentally broken. Second, as the father of five children, I interact frequently with the health-care system and can see there are ways to do things better. Lastly, I see this as a great business opportunity to build a trusted health brand and a significant health company.
I learned through my days of building AOL that by empowering consumers with more choice, control and convenience, revolutionary things can happen. So, turning my attention to health and building a company that could serve as a disruptor to force the system to change seemed like the right thing to do.
Entrepreneur.com: What sets Revolution Health apart from other online medical websites, such as WebMD.com or EverydayHealth.com?
Case: There is a lot of great health information on the internet, but it has never been assembled in a way that's compelling and useful for consumers who want to take control of their family's health. We've scoured the landscape to find the very best health tools and content, and we've put it together in one place--and made it all free.
The market opportunity is vast, so there's room for plenty of companies. The reality is most people don't rely on any of the health portals. They're either not engaged at all, or rely on search. We think RevolutionHealth.com provides a unique and compelling solution, and we're committed to building it into the most popular health destination.
Entrepreneur.com: How can Revolution Health help small-business owners and their employees?
Case: Health care is a very significant part of our economy, and almost every company is involved to some degree in health-care decisions. So far, it's really been about providing insurance options. We want to help companies take the next step of actually providing tools to allow their employees and their families to make healthier choices. In the long run, this will help save money, but more importantly, it will improve the health of those employees and their families, and that is really the focus of our efforts at Revolution Health.
We also can help business owners provide new kinds of insurance plans to their employees through Extend Health, a company we acquired. We know a lot of business owners want to provide health insurance but can't afford to, and the new kinds of plans offered by Extend Health will enable more employers to provide more health insurance to more employees.
Entrepreneur.com: I've read you're thinking about launching your own credit card. Do you have a launch date?
Case: Revolution, the parent company of Revolution Health, has taken a controlling interest in a new payment transaction system and credit operating platform that uses proprietary technology and the internet to provide a superior method of payment. We'll be rolling it out over the next couple of months, so stay tuned.
Entrepreneur.com: What advice would you give to potential entrepreneurs needing a little inspiration?
Case: Building AOL was a 20-year journey that was founded on two personal qualities: passion and perseverance. If you feel passionate about a particular business and have the fortitude to break down barriers and redirect when needed, you can do great things. After 20 years of focusing on making the internet accessible to a mainstream audience, I'm pleased to be focusing my attention on health care and trying to empower consumers so they can take control of their health.