Before you knew it, venture capitalists were circling around these companies, seeing a profitable business waiting in the wings (since healthcare in the U.S. is nearly a $1 trillion a year industry). Only one company really understood what it would take to grab a significant portion of that pie (Healtheon), while the others thought it could be done through appealing to consumers to come visit their site over that of all those smaller sites or the NIH or NIMH directly. They talked in Internet jargon about "value-add" and an "electronic medical record" (which was later changed into the more nebulous and softer-sonding "personal medical record"). Everyone thought that people like you and I would think nothing of trusting our valuable medical data to these for-profit, commercial companies to store.
And so they arose. Drkoop.com and WebMD were actually somewhat late players to the game, but each found a way to wiggle their way into an already-crowded e-health marketplace. Drkoop.com through its brand name recognition (although I still get the "Who's that?" when I'm talking to people) and WebMD through a cash-infused acquisitions budget, allowing them to gobble up other key players (such as the popular Sapient Health Network). This was in 1998, and already some people could see the writing on the wall for some of these companies if they didn't have a more sound business strategy than simply pursuing consumers with congegrated health information.