House calls are a browser click away thanks to this online doctor. WebMD Health Corp. is a leading Web publisher of health information for consumers and health care professionals. Its WebMD.com portal gives consumers information on common health ailments, as well as articles and features on staying healthy through diet and exercise. WebMD's Medscape is a Web portal with clinical information for doctors and other health care professionals. All total, The WebMD Health Network (including WebMD.com, Medscape.com, and third-party sites) attracts about 85 million unique users per month. The company also operates private portals for employers and health plans.
WebMD generates the lion's share of its revenue through its Public Portal Advertising and Sponsorship segment, which includes online advertising, marketing sponsorships, and licensing fees earned from The WebMD Health Network websites. Beyond digital media, the Public Portal Advertising and Sponsorship segment publishes WebMD the Magazine, which is distributed free of charge to physicians' office waiting rooms. The company's remaining revenues come from its Private Portals segment, which produces custom versions of its content for corporations (Wal-Mart, IBM) and health plans (Cigna, Anthem) in order to manage their health and benefits Web portals.
In 2011 the company experienced slight revenue growth, mainly due to higher advertising and sponsorship revenue from its Public Portals segment during the first half of the year. Overall, in 2011 revenue grew 4.5% to $558.8 million, up from $534.5 million in 2010. Net earnings also increased compared to the prior year, from $74.6 million in 2011 compared to $54.1 in 2010, but only because of an after-tax gain on investments and after-tax income from discontinued operations. Despite these gains, revenues declined during the end of the year. The company faces challenges in the face of generic competition; pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are spending less on drug promotion and education, the result of patent expirations in 2011 and 2012.
Focusing on its mobile applications, in 2012 the company launched WebMD Baby App for iPhone and iPod touch. The free mobile app provides health and wellness information for parents of infants and toddlers. The previous year the company launched its Medscape from WebMD mobile app for iPad and Android devices. Medscape Mobile provides free medical reference, news, and education to healthcare professionals.
The company's current ownership structure was established in 2009, when HLTH Corporation acquired the 20% of WebMD Health it didn't already own and completed a reverse merger with WebMD as the surviving company. Previously a medical practice services provider, HLTH divested most of its other operations to focus on its online content and services business. The merger, worth some $1.2 billion, was intended to reduce costs associated with both WebMD and HLTH operating as a publicly traded companies. HLTH and WebMD had previously planned to merge in 2008 but that deal, valued at $2.3 billion, was called off due to poor economic conditions and problems with obtaining financing.