ePharmacy Ro launches doc-approved WebMD rival Health Guide


“Whatever your symptom, WebMD says you have cancer.” It’s a long-running joke that underscores the distrust of perhaps the top source of medical advice, stemming from a confusing site clogged with ads that’s been criticized for questionable information and pushing pills from its sponsors.

Health Guide is the new medical handbook for the internet, where 30% of content is written by doctors and 100% is reviewed by them. On a single clean, coherent page for each condition, it lays out a tl;dr summary, what the ailment really is, how to spot the symptoms and what you need for treatment. Rather than pushing you to nervously keep clicking, it just wants to answer the question.

Health Guide officially launches today. It was built by digital pharmacy Ro, which has raised $176 million for medicine brands Ro for men’s health, Rory for women’s health and Zero for smoking cessation. With Ro, patients can get a $15 telemedicine consultation with a doctor, receive an instant prescription and have it filled and sent to you from the startup’s in-house pharmacy operating in all 50 states. A competitor to Hims & Hers, Ro scored a $500 million valuation last year.

Rather than aggressively hawking its own products at the end of articles, Health Guide just lists the medications you could take, insists you ask a doctor what’s right and leaves it up to you to choose where to buy.  Ro founder Zachariah Reitano calls Health Guide “a significant investment in trust. There’s not a clear ROI (return on investment) to it but it’s one of those long-term bets . . . Providing education to patients will serve Ro really well in the long-run.” He acknowledges the suspicions of self-dealing, and says “if we don’t do this correctly, it can hurt more than it can help.”

On Health Guide you can search for specific conditions, browse categories like diabetes or hair loss and browse featured articles like “Proven ways to increase the density of your bones” or “How do you test for gonorrhea.” There are no banner ads, so your search about the flu or testosterone won’t immediately lead to you being bombarded with promotions for Mucinex or dicey supplements. “On these other sites . . you have [advertisers] with unregulated supplements and services that are the highest bidder beside medical information, which creates a lot of distrust.”

The simplicity and accuracy of Health Guide has already attracted a sizable audience. It’s on pace to reach 30 million readers this year, with 25% being women despite Ro’s initial focus on aiding men with erectile dysfunction. It already ranks in the top 10 Google results for 300 medical questions. The no-filler entries come signed by the specific doctors that wrote or approved them, and Ro pledges to have them reviewed and updated at least once per year. At the bottom are links to all the original source material, including peer-reviewed medical journals.

Reitano tells me that the idea from Health Guide came after Ro’s physicians and customer service were bombarded with the same patient questions over and over. The easiest move was to put all the answers on an open site they could send patients to. A major goal was to debunk hoaxes other sites often don’t address directly. “For something like vaccines where there is a potential for misinformation, you’ll see us take a strong stance. We won’t let the potential for misinformation spread through Health Guide.”

One thing Health Guide is missing that could keep people coming back to WebMD is a symptom checker. Right now it’s better at research on major conditions or lifestyle choices than figuring out why your throat’s sore. But given it’s day one and Ro has tons of funding, it has plenty of time to improve. There’s sure to be concerns about how it collects data and what treatments Health Guide lists. So as a precaution, it never forcefully makes recommendations besides asking a doctor for personalized advice, and there’s just one button atop the site for visiting its medication marketplace.

Ro is trying to move fast as the ePharmacy space heats up. It plans to launch 10 more products in the next two quarters, with a focus on Rory for women. It just struck an exclusive deal with Pfizer to provide Roman customers with generic Viagra, offering clear supply chain transparency around a drug that’s often counterfeited. And thanks to its licenses across all states, it’s helping new weight loss treatment Plenity launch nationwide atop its diagnosis, prescription and fulfillment technology.

Yet Reitano sees space for multiple startups to succeed in replacing embarrassing and inconvenient in-person trips to the doctor or drug store. “It might be a somewhat cheesy answer but . . . the best thing about competition is it makes everyone build a better experience for patients,” he says, citing NURX and PillClub enhancing birth control access. “I think all this innovation in digital health — it’s an absolutely massive market. No one’s taking market share from someone else. We’re raising the bar for care.”


  1. I wish to show appreciation to you just for bailing me out of this type of challenge. As a result of surfing around through the world wide web and seeing advice that were not powerful, I figured my life was gone. Existing devoid of the answers to the issues you have resolved through your entire blog post is a serious case, as well as the kind that could have in a negative way damaged my career if I had not noticed your website. Your personal natural talent and kindness in touching every aspect was precious. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not encountered such a solution like this. I am able to at this moment look ahead to my future. Thanks a lot very much for this reliable and results-oriented guide. I will not be reluctant to recommend your blog to anybody who needs support about this problem.

  2. I simply wished to appreciate you once more. I do not know what I would have worked on without the entire hints discussed by you on such area. It truly was the terrifying situation for me personally, however , coming across a well-written tactic you treated it forced me to weep with delight. I am just happier for your guidance and trust you find out what a powerful job that you are doing training people through the use of your web site. More than likely you’ve never encountered all of us.

  3. I and also my buddies were actually reading through the nice solutions found on your web site and then the sudden got a terrible suspicion I had not thanked the web blog owner for those secrets. All of the men were so glad to learn all of them and have in actuality been having fun with these things. We appreciate you getting indeed thoughtful as well as for going for this kind of outstanding guides most people are really desirous to discover. Our own sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

  4. I simply needed to say thanks again. I’m not certain what I would have sorted out without these tactics revealed by you over such topic. Entirely was the intimidating dilemma in my view, nevertheless coming across your professional technique you treated the issue forced me to cry for joy. I’m grateful for the advice and thus hope you know what an amazing job you are providing teaching others via a site. I am sure you have never got to know all of us.

  5. My wife and i felt quite comfortable that Louis could deal with his basic research with the precious recommendations he was given through the web page. It is now and again perplexing to just possibly be making a gift of tips and tricks which usually the others have been selling. We already know we’ve got you to be grateful to for this. Most of the illustrations you’ve made, the easy web site navigation, the relationships you can make it possible to create – it’s everything spectacular, and it’s really letting our son and us know that the issue is entertaining, which is certainly highly essential. Thanks for the whole lot!

  6. I wish to show thanks to the writer for rescuing me from this scenario. Because of searching through the search engines and obtaining basics which are not beneficial, I believed my life was done. Existing without the solutions to the difficulties you have fixed as a result of this site is a critical case, and those which could have in a negative way damaged my career if I hadn’t discovered the blog. Your own personal competence and kindness in playing with the whole thing was very helpful. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I had not discovered such a thing like this. I’m able to at this moment relish my future. Thank you very much for your skilled and sensible guide. I will not be reluctant to suggest your web blog to anyone who would like guidance about this subject.

  7. Thank you so much for providing individuals with remarkably nice opportunity to read critical reviews from this web site. It is often so lovely plus full of amusement for me and my office fellow workers to search your site minimum three times every week to read the latest guides you have got. And definitely, I’m just actually satisfied considering the astonishing opinions you give. Certain 4 points in this post are particularly the simplest I have ever had.

  8. An impressive share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing slightly evaluation on this. And he in actual fact purchased me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If doable, as you turn out to be experience, would you mind updating your blog with extra particulars? It is extremely useful for me. Huge thumb up for this blog publish!

  9. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So good to search out any individual with some authentic thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for beginning this up. this web site is one thing that’s wanted on the web, someone with a little originality. helpful job for bringing something new to the web!

  10. I抦 impressed, I have to say. Actually rarely do I encounter a weblog that抯 both educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you have hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the problem is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about. I am very pleased that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for something relating to this.

  11. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So good to seek out somebody with some authentic thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this web site is one thing that’s needed on the internet, somebody with just a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here