The widespread use of digital media by online health marketers is a point of concern in a complaint by consumer and privacy watchdog groups to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The commission has been asked to investigate regarding “unfair and deceptive advertising practices” available to consumers online. The group is concerned that while digital marketing is providing consumers with medical information, it is also engaging in activities that “threaten privacy, raise questions about the fair presentation of independent information, and advance the sales of prescription drugs and over-the-counter products.”
In a Treasury report released earlier last week, the U.S. government’s net financial position for the year ended September worsened to $13.5 trillion deficit from $11.5 trillion deficit reported a year ago. The fiscal deficit for the period grew to $2.1 trillion from $1.3 trillion a year ago. On a brighter note, the cash budget deficit did drop marginally from $1.4 trillion a year ago to $1.3 trillion. But analysts expect this number to remain above the $1 trillion mark due to the continuation of tax cuts in the current year. To control the growing deficit and manage health care administration costs, a year ago, the Obama administration released the government’s health care funding stimulus with benefits such as a $30 billion federal aid for hospitals adopting electronic records. Existing manual processes in the industry add to the expenses. For instance, a call for an eligibility benefits check costs the insurance company as much as $11 and has cost the country as much as $9 billion. It is thus not a surprise that health care IT companies are having a strong run in recent quarters.
According to Forrester, online retail sales in the United States will increase 16% over the year to $52 billion this holiday season. In a survey of 4,700 U.S. online consumers surveyed for the report, 37%said they expect to make holiday purchases on the Web this year, compared with 30% in 2009. Mobile phones are also expected to play a bigger role this season, with 18% of U.S. online adults planning to use their mobile devices to compare prices and 16% to use their phones to locate a nearby store. >>>
SaaS within health care continues to remain a viable avenue for growth, and athenahealth’s (NASDAQ:ATHN), recently announced results were representative of the opportunities within the segment. As the New York Times notes, Congress is trying to restructure one-sixth of the US economy through the health care portion of the $787 billion stimulus package and through legislation expected to be approved by the Senate Finance Committee this week. Republicans and Democrats are far from agreeing on what kind of health care system the country should adopt. But whatever the government decides, athenahealth, with one foot in health care and the other in SaaS, should benefit. Let’s take a closer look at how this is so. >>>
Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), a provider of the health industry’s billing and practice management solutions for helping physicians collect their reimbursements, saw significant growth over the year, but failed to meet the market’s expectations of their Q1 results. >>>
In times when most companies are either reducing their outlooks or even refraining from giving them, health portal WebMD, one of my favorite Internet stocks , not only announced Q4 results that beat the market’s expectations but also reaffirmed its 2009 outlook. >>>