Information giant WebMD acquires ‘operating assets’ of Boise’s Healthwise. What we know

Health information giant WebMD has purchased the “operating assets” of Healthwise, a Boise nonprofit that provides educational materials to medical patients through hospitals and individual physician practices.

WebMD is a for-profit company.

Healthwise’s operating assets include content, products, technology, client relationships and certain trademarks, and they now will be part of WebMD Ignite, a health care growth and engagement platform, according to a news release.

“The addition of Healthwise’s assets to Ignite Education will accelerate our ability to create engagement solutions that are deeply personalized and that are delivered in the moments that matter,” said Ann Bilyew, president of Healthcare Solutions Group at Internet Brands, the parent company of WebMD, in the news release.

WebMD Ignite, with the addition of Healthwise’s operating assets, will provide patient education services to more than 650 health care organizations, over 50% of U.S. hospitals and 85% of the top 20 payers, the news release said.

“With these expansive, industry-leading resources, we are the dominant provider of engagement and education solutions for healthcare,” Bilyew said.

Healthwise was founded in Boise by Don Kemper in 1975. He retired in 2016.

The Idaho Statesman reported in 2022 that Healthwise had about 250 employees. It’s unclear how many workers will retain jobs in the new operation.

Over the next few weeks, WebMD Ignite will “assess positions of need” and iron out its new structure and team, Healthwise CEO Dr. Adam Husney said in a statement provided to the Statesman on Friday.

“Every effort will be made to integrate existing Healthwise employees into WebMD,” Husney said. “In those cases where a position may not be available or someone declines to move forward with WebMD, they will be provided severance and other transition support to help them with their next steps.”

Healthwise’s offices are located at 2601 N. Bogus Basin Road in Boise.
Healthwise’s offices are located at 2601 N. Bogus Basin Road in Boise.

When Kemper started the company, its focus was on self-care handbooks and workshops. In the 1990s, the nonprofit developed online consumer health information, later publishing “Information Therapy” in 2002 to help doctors prescribe evidence-based health information to patients.

“There’s a time for funerals, and there’s a time for celebration of life,” Kemper told the Statesman by phone Friday. “And there’s a lot to celebrate in terms of what Healthwise has done over the years, and that’s kind of my focus today.”

Kemper said since news broke of the sale, he’s been talking to Healthwise retirees and others about the acquisition.

“We’re trying to look at the good work that we’ve done through the years and the recognition that the world is changing,” he said. “It’s exceptional for our little independent nonprofit to last for 50 years.”

Idaho Statesman opinion editor Scott McIntosh contributed.

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