‘Knowledge Partners’ Join Experts on Health Site

ShareCare.com, created by TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz and Jeff Arnold, founder of WebMD (in partnership with Harpo Studios, HSW International, Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications) is an interactive site that promises to gather “collective wisdom” to help visitors live better. To that end, they’ve brought in medical experts and national nonprofits like AARP and the American Red Cross and companies, a.k.a. “knowledge partners,” like Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive.

Marketers participating on the site are paying between $1 million and $7 million and will have their logos and names attached to their advice. Paul Ewing, a senior director for patient marketing at Pfizer, another “knowledge partner,” told the New York Times that they won’t answer questions around the products the company offers. Still, it sounds like this site will serve as a means for the participating companies to build reputations as wellness experts while telling people to take their advice with a grain of salt.

Pfizer’s Ewing adds to his comments that readers will “have to work with their health care providers to make sure they’re making the best decisions about what the next steps would be” for any conditions they’re treating.

But on its website, Sharecare says:

Sharecare is designed to greatly simplify the search for quality healthcare information and provide consumers with the necessary tools to make smart health choices and live healthier lives.

So readers are supposed to be getting the tools to make decisions from this site. But they would be well advised to take those tools to the doctor, just to be sure. So why would we pay attention to the “knowledge partners” in the first place? In the story, Arnold is quoted saying that the brands are taking their answers seriously. That’s not reassuring.