iVillage operates Better Health, a health-oriented online community that has about 50 sub-communities dealing with various subjects such as heart disease, cancer, smoking cessation, and heartburn management. It also hosts support groups and bulletin boards on specific health topics, and plans to add such features as personal home health pages, rankings of health organizations, and a health profiling tool that would help its members assess health risks based on lifestyle and hereditary information.
Intel's investment will help fund Better Health, which last June completed a third round of financing that raised $21.5 million. Investors included America Online, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and General Electric Pension Trust. Terms of Intel's investment were not disclosed.
Health care sites are gaining momentum, but regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have become concerned about the quality of health advice received online, as well as about the promotions for drugs that often accompany such information.
The investment by Intel is among the latest in the online health care space.
"We want people to use the PC to augment their health care," said Intel spokeswoman Lynn Heinisch.
Intel formed a technology health initiative team last year to work with its content and applications group. That team also has provided technology support and services to the health care industry, said Heinisch.
Last February, the health initiative team and CommuniHealth, a personalized online health information provider, jointly funded a project that helps diabetics in New Jersey manage their disease by using computers to track their blood sugar levels and diets. Their information is sent electronically to their healthcare providers, who then offer medical advice online.
In May, Intel also was part of an investor group that provided a $9 million round of financing to Abaton.com, an applications provider for physicians accessing clinical data and information over the Internet and intranets.
"With Intel's investment and technical expertise, Better Health will advance its mission of empowering people to be better healthcare decision-makers," Robert Levitan, Better Health president and co-founder of iVillage, said in a statement. "We believe this relationship will accelerate the evolution of healthcare online, from information retrieval, to online community, to personalization, and individual relevance."
(Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network, publisher of NEWS.COM.)