This month saw the launch of ChickRx, a site that mixes the sassy with the serious to reach 20-something women on health topics. The health topics, so far, are pretty narrow: there’s plenty on sex (as of this writing, the three most-read stories are on sex), some tips on drinking, a few pieces on fitness and nutrition and liberal use of celeb names and photos.
In short, it’s not the kind of sober, actionable stuff you might get from, say, the Mayo Clinic or the National Institutes of Health, but it’s apparently marketable enough that investors have been willing to shell out $400,000 in seed funding to help the site launch. TechCrunch calls it “A WebMD For Twenty-Something Women.”
It would be tempting to question if the world needs a site dedicated to questioning the safety of Katy Perry’s pedicure routine or whether irritable bowel syndrome is better than syphilis, but I suspect that if the content is good enough, it’ll draw an audience. After all, if you’re a 20-something female (or a 20-something male, or any one of a dozen other demographic groups with a narrow set of health concerns), you don’t have many options. Mainstream consumer journalism trends toward covering serious geriatric issues over everyday health concerns, online resources like WebMD or MedlinePlus can be overwhelming and sterile, and none of them gives much of a sense of community.
This isn’t surprising. Community, in health, is tricky to establish. There is a boneyard of sites that have tried to establish themselves as true gathering places, with members giving each other advice and comfort and with some professionals oversight. But as sites such as Revolution Health have found, trying to cover every possible angle on health in a single website is a near-futile effort.
The future, then, may well belong to targeted health sites that are built with a single community in mind. Like trade publications — whose praises I have sung before — ultra-targeted consumer health news sites may be able to exploit niches that are not now being filled. This is not to say that there are not excellent for-us, by-us health sites on the web: some disease-specific forums provide outstanding information in a social setting. But those outlets tend to be the exception, not the rule.
So, on behalf of WCG, I wish the folks at ChickRx the best of luck, and I hope they kick off a new trend in health journalism. And if ever any entrepreneur wants to build a health site for guys with two kids, a mortgage and a bum knee, give me a call. I have some ideas.