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WebMD is an American corporation known primarily as an online publisher of news and information pertaining to human health and well-being.[4] The site includes information pertaining to drugs. It is one of the top healthcare websites by unique visitors.

WebMD Health Corp.
WebMD logo.png
Type of site
Traded as NASDAQ: WBMD
Founded June 14, 1996; 21 years ago (1996-06-14)[1] (as Healthscape)
Headquarters New York City, New York, U.S.
Key people
  • Steven L. Zatz, M.D. (CEO)[2]
Services Healthcare Information
Employees 1,800 (2017)
Parent Internet Brands
Alexa rank Negative increase 529 (December 2017)[3]

It was founded in 1996 by Jeffrey T. Arnold. In early 1999 it was part of a three way merger with Sapient Health Network (SHN) and Direct Medical Knowledge (DMK). SHN began in Portland, OR in 1996 by Jim Kean, Bill Kelly, and Kris Nybakken, who worked together at a CD-ROM publishing firm, Creative Multimedia. Later in 1999, WebMD merged with Healtheon, founded by Netscape Communications founder Jim Clark.[5]



During 2015, WebMD’s network of websites reached more unique visitors each month than any other leading private or government healthcare website, making it the leading health publisher in the United States.[6] In the fourth quarter of 2016, WebMD recorded an average of 179.5 million unique users per month, and 3.63 billion page views per quarter.[7]


WebMD is best known as a health information services website, which publishes content regarding health and health care topics, including a symptom checklist, pharmacy information, drugs information, and blogs of physicians with specific topics, and provides a place to store personal medical information.[4] URAC, the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission, has accredited WebMD’s operations continuously since 2001 regarding everything from proper disclosures and health content to security and privacy.[8]

The company reported $705 million in revenue for the year 2016.[5] In 2017, private equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (K.K.R.) agreed to purchase WebMD Health Corporation for approximately $2.8 billion.[5]


WebMD is financed by advertising, third-party contributions, and sponsors.[9]

In 2013, the Chicago Tribune reported that WebMD, "has struggled with a fall in advertising revenue with pharmaceutical companies slashing marketing budgets as several blockbuster drugs go off patent." In response, WebMD began investing in changes to its site which the company hopes will entice users who use its site seeking specific information, to linger on the site reviewing other material.[10]

WebMD offers services to physicians and private clients. For example, they publish WebMD the Magazine, a patient-directed publication distributed bimonthly to 85 percent of physician waiting rooms.[11] Medscape is a professional portal for physicians featuring the most recent news and peer-review articles as well as training materials, a drug database, and clinical information on 30 medical specialty areas and more than 30 physician discussion boards.[12] WebMD Health Services provides private health management programs and benefit decision-support portals to employers and health plans.

The WebMD Health Network operates WebMD Health and other health-related sites including: Medscape, MedicineNet, eMedicine, eMedicineHealth, RxList,, Medscape Education, and other-owned WebMD sites. These sites provide similar services to those of WebMD; MedicineNet is an online media publishing company.[13] Medscape offers up-to-date information for physicians and other healthcare professionals.[14] RxList offers detailed information about pharmaceutical information on generic and name-brand drugs.[15] eMedicineHealth is a consumer site offering similar information to that of WebMD. It was first based on the site created for physicians and healthcare professionals called[16]

WebMD China is operated by an unaffiliated online publishing group, and is not part of the WebMD Health Network.[17][18]


The New York Times writer Virginia Hefferman criticized WebMD, saying that it biases readers toward using unnecessary drugs sold by their pharmaceutical sponsors, specifically, in cases for which the drug has been determined to be unnecessary.[19]


  1. ^ " WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 2016-07-12. 
  2. ^ "WebMD Appoints Steven L. Zatz, M.D. as Chief Executive Officer". PR Newswire. September 19, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2016. 
  3. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved December 4, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "What We Do For Our Users". WebMD. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  5. ^ a b c Bray, Chad (2017-07-24). "K.K.R. to Buy WebMD and Take Majority Stake in Nature's Bounty". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-20. 
  6. ^ comScore Media Metrix December 2015
  7. ^ "Transcript of Q4 2016 WebMD Earnings Conference Call" (PDF). February 16, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2017. 
  8. ^ "WebMD Health Services Group, Inc". 
  9. ^ Some of the sponsors have influence over the content on WebMD."Web sites for medical information," News and Observer, September 13, 2007 Archived February 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Ail, Pallavi; Venkatesan, Adithya. "WebMD CEO Redmond leaving; company reports narrower loss". y 7, 2013. 
  11. ^ "WebMD Corporation Launches Print Magazine," The Write News, April 22, 2005
  12. ^
  13. ^ About Us - Health and Medical Information Produced by Doctors -
  14. ^ Medscape - About Us
  15. ^ RxList - The Internet Drug Index for prescription drugs and medications
  16. ^ About Us - Overview - eMedicineHealth - Consumer First Aid and Health Information
  17. ^ About Us - WebMD China
  18. ^ "How WebMD Got Locked Out of the China Market". Seeking Alpha. July 26, 2017. 
  19. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (February 4, 2011). "A Prescription for Fear". The New York Times. 

External linksEdit

  • WebMD (corporate website)