Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight
March 10, 2004:
Alan Greene '81 answers parents' questions
In 1995 Alan Greene '81, a pediatrician in Northern California,
became frustrated that he wasn't able to spend more time with his
patients and their parents. "I felt I was writing quick prescriptions,"
Greene says. "As the pace got faster and faster, some of the
families I was working with got upset." And parents were hesitant
to make appointments to discuss nonurgent issues. "He was often
not a part of the family's life at pivotal times," says his
wife, Cheryl. "His input was not available during critical
development and health decision-making."
Then one of his patient's parents suggested that he create a Web
site that addressed parents' nonurgent questions and archive the
responses online. Greene took the advice and he and his wife founded
Greene began telling his patients about the Web site and encouraged
them to ask him questions that he could address online. "I
would take my experience as a dad and as a pediatrician and look
at the questions and answer it in a one- or two-page article,"
Greene says. Cheryl designed and implemented the site. "She
is in many ways the heart and soul of the site," Greene says.
The response to drgreene.com was overwhelming. "The families
in the practice loved it! We felt really connected," Greene
"His patients felt there was an open door, day and night,
to ask the questions that were important to them," Cheryl says.
Before long people from all over the world started sending in their
The site was only about a year old when Cheryl was diagnosed with
stage three, high-risk breast cancer in March 1996. Doctors gave
her less than a year to live. At first, Greene believed they should
shut down the Web site so he could spend time with his wife and
their newborn son. But Cheryl didn't agree. She "wanted to
leave a legacy," he says. They pressed on. "When it appeared
that we had lost everything," Greene says, "this was something
that came into focus. It was a clarifying moment."
Today, nearly seven years later, she has been given a clean bill
of health and drgreene.com is more popular than ever. The site receives
nearly 17 million hits per month, roughly double last year's average.
More than 300,000 unique visitors, of whom 40 percent are international,
log on each month.
The site contains 2,000 in-depth articles written by Greene, a
bulletin board where parents can communicate with one another, a
multimedia library, and a chat room. "When it became clear
that we were getting so many more questions than could be answered
[in in-depth articles], we started chats," Greene says. He
is now available on the chat forum for one hour each weekday to
communicate directly with parents.
Greene helps finance the site with his own resources, ever mindful
of his commitment to keeping drgreene.com accessible to everyone.
Greene, who is the chief medical officer of A.D.A.M., a company
that produces multimedia products for medical professionals, and
a clinical faculty member at Stanford University's School of Medicine,
is working on a new book, titled From the First Steps to the
First Kicks: Nurturing Your Child's Development from Pregnancy Through
the First Year of Life.
Greene is hesitant to charge visitors to access to the site, believing
it is often those people least able to afford to pay for access
including the site's many visitors from developing nations
who need the information the most. Says Greene, "Our
goal is to not put barriers up to anybody."
By Chanakya Sethi '07
A longer version of this story originally appeared in the Daily