WebMD Corp., an Internet-era information company known more for multibillion-dollar losses than for the products and services it offers, stepped forward last week to produce something new and different: a profit.
The Elmwood Park, N.J.-based corporation posted the first operating and in its four-year history, squeezing a $21,000 operating profit out of $200.2 million in revenue for the third quarter ended Sept. 30. for the quarter totaled $4.54 million.
The company benefited from a one-time tax break and revenue from discontinued operations to push financial results into the black. An income-tax benefit worth $12.88 million resulting from the Job Creation and Workers Assistance Act of 2002 wiped out an operating loss of $12.86 million, and income of $4.52 million from discontinued operations supplied most of the net margin.
By comparison, WebMD posted an operating and net loss of $4.6 billion in the third quarter of 2001, including a $3.8 billion charge to reflect a decline in the value of assets amassed by the company during its acquisition of about 30 companies in a three-year stretch.
After merging, consolidating and discontinuing operations from the separate companies, the company now is poised to offer some of the products for managing physician practices and exchanging transactions with payers that were promised but never delivered in WebMD's early years, said President Roger Holstein.
Among them is a new information system "built from scratch" that combines business and clinical functions of a physician practice, said Holstein, who was promoted to president last month after serving as head of the WebMD Health Division.
The company owns and markets a practice-management system called Medical Manager, which covers billing and administrative functions mainly for small practices of up to 10 physicians. WebMD also announced the launch of a claims-processing and transaction service that's comprehensive enough to provide most or all of the connections to payers that a physician office needs to file claims and to have them paid, Holstein said.