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A Healthy Convergence of Conferencing and Streaming Media

Anthony Whalen, Truestar Health’s vice president of information systems and co-founder, is a streaming media entrepreneur. At Truestar Health , Whalen has taken off-the-shelf components from STARBAK and VCON, and created a special streaming media production system. The result is programming that has positive impacts the daily lives of Truestar Health members.

Truestar Health is the first online health resource to focus on complete health for all age groups. Although the Truestar Health philosophy includes weight loss — the major focus of most other health Web sites — it also goes much farther. Truestar Health’s innovative and personalized programs span other important areas such as attitude, nutrition, sleep, vitamins, exercise, and sport-specific training.

But Truestar Health’s innovations go beyond the content of the programs offered. Their business model, marketing technique, and technology are also noteworthy in the healthcare industry. In contrast with most health portals, which rely on revenues from pharmaceutical industry advertising, the Truestar Health business model is to offer a complete content program on-line on a subscription basis. From the portal, content includes live and archived video broadcasts from Truestar Health’s fitness and cooking studios, articles, and live consultation with personal health consultants. The broadcasts of gym and aerobics classes, and demonstrations of preparing healthy yet delicious meals, provide Truestar Health members with engaging experiences in which they can physically follow along.

Technology figures into every aspect of Truestar Health’s approach to the market. The company’s proprietary Synergistic Personal Training System involves a cutting-edge individual evaluation software program that scores each member daily, weekly, and monthly on the key areas of health. To support the member’s goals in each area, the company provides live and stored audio/video programming on exercise and nutrition to their members, they offer toll-free voice over IP- and Web-based customer support through their Multimedia Call Center that uses their members’ PCs as endpoints. These innovations are achieved through close partnerships between Truestar Health’s technologists, their vendors, and integrator.

To secure Truestar’s investors to a rapid return on investment, Whalen quickly but strategically leads the vendor selection, integration, and deployment for the company’s technology-centric services. He purposely chooses vendors that have a proven track record of working together in order to avoid the cost of custom engineering and system design. Streaming media publishing systems can take months to design and deploy. "It was less than one month from the time that the vendors were selected for our streaming media studio production to the first program’s broadcast over the Internet," recalls Whalen. He attributes this speed to VCON's and STARBAK's responsiveness, and to the joint relationship formed by the two partners around this technology in 2002.

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