Our health care system could probably use a revolution. In that light, the name of America Online co-founder Steve Case's new start-up, Revolution Health, is particularly apt. The company is launching a Web site that will let consumers use social-networking-style features while researching health issues.

Social networking sites like News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace allow users to meet new friends and significant others, and trade information about jobs and hobbies. Similarly, Revolution Health lets users share information on doctors, health insurance, and related topics. A quick visit to the site revealed tabs like "compare and rate doctors and hospitals," "learn about a condition," and "check a symptom." Although it's offering a one-year free trial for all services right now, Revolution hopes users will eventually pay $100 a year for premium services like telephone consulting and digital-record services. The site could really take off if it can help users navigate insurance claims and other thorny, frustrating issues.

Its web site isn't Revolution's only move to challenge the status quo. According to CNET, the company has invested tens of millions of dollars in RediClinic, which has set up quick health clinics in Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and other retail stores, offering affordable, fixed-price treatments for common ailments. The "quick clinic" concept caught my eye back in September, when CVS (NYSE:CVS) completed its acquisition of a similar operation, MinuteClinic; such clinics are also showing up in other retailers such as Target (NYSE:TGT) and Walgreen (NYSE:WAG).

Some doctors may not be too crazy about quick clinics showing up in retail stores (they claim that nothing can take the place of seeing your doctor), but let's face it -- these clinics are addressing some very real consumer frustrations, such as the high price of health care, and the difficulties involved in scheduling appointments for routine ailments. (Ever had a cold or flu, and been told it'll be a couple weeks before you can see your doctor?) Furthermore, they offer ways for consumers to get routine vaccinations and such during hours that are more convenient for them than doctors' office hours generally are.

Frankly, the health care industry could use some disruptive influences. Given baby boomers' increasing interest in health views, and many consumers' desire for friendlier, more convenient health care, Revolution Health could have a good shot at success. (That said, a Wall Street Journal article pointed out that the long-established WebMD site, with many similar offerings, is a formidable rival for the new venture.)

Whether Case's Revolution turns out to be a shot heard around the world, it should be interesting to watch as more innovative, Internet-driven options arise to give consumers more information and greater power over their own health care.

Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Discover more of the market's best bargains with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.