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The Healthy Living Channel

Launch: January 1996
In cooperation with Time Inc.'s new online service, Pathfinder, Health Magazine asked me to create a web site devoted to wellness. At the time, this was something of a new idea: With one exception, there were no large health sites targeted to consumers. In fact, no one was sure how to build one -- or even what the legalities were in providing health information online to consumers.

The Healthy Living Channel was a rough start, but in many ways it broke new ground and paved the way for most health sites that followed. Most of Time Inc.'s sites were essentially top-down print content ported directly from the magazines. I set out to build a web presence that, while adding subscriptions to Health, was driven by functionality. To my knowledge Pathfinder's Healthy Living Channel was the first web site to offer searchable medical databases and an expert question-and-answer area. It was the first to attempt an online diagnostic tests. It was the first to put together a physical activity calorie-counter (I adapted one from the scientific literature) and to engineer the information into personalizable, if rudimentary, fitness plan. It was the first with a subject-specific newsfeed (which we splintered from Reuters and AP), and the first to cross-link those articles with relevant databased material (which I licensed from the authors of medical reference books and had databased in SQL).

I handled virtually all the product lifecycle, including the editorial and tech development. As there were no CMS tools available, I also oversaw the development of one in Perl. (And no, I don't recommend it.) Eventually Pathfinder's Healthy Living Channel was spun off as a separate company and sold to America Online.

The Healthy Living Channel