Acxiom, AMA Rebut Criticism of Database

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Despite criticism from within the medical community, Acxiom Corp. and the American Medical Association plan to have the 650,000-name HealthCarePro Connect physician database up and running after Jan. 1.

"What we are doing -- in the context of using existing databases of the AMA in combination with our technology -- is creating a service that will allow physicians to have unprecedented access and choice as to how their information is used," said Matthew Stovall, group leader of health and media industries at Acxiom Corp., Little Rock, AR.

The partnership between Acxiom and the AMA was announced in October.

While opponents of the database argue that it will facilitate potentially questionable marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to physicians, Stovall said HealthCarePro Connect will give doctors control over what they receive and marketers the ability to better target their offers.

Also, the information has already been in the public domain for many years, he said.

"There are various sources of information on physicians out there today. But now, for the first time, physicians will have more control over when and how their information is used," AMA president-elect Dr. Richard F. Corlin said in a statement.

Elizabeth Ruske, CEO of HealthCarePro Connect, Chicago, said, "Physicians are inundated with irrelevant and unwanted information."

Thus, she said, it is important for physicians to have targeted and relevant information.

The database will allow physicians to indicate what type of information they would like to receive, Stovall said. Physicians also will be given the choice of opting out of the database completely.

By visiting, physicians can sign up to receive more information about setting up contact preferences, Ruske said. She added that many doctors have expressed interest in using the service.

After Jan. 1, HealthCarePro Connect will begin allowing physicians to state their contact preferences. Physicians then can determine when and how they will be contacted, where the best place is to reach them, and what type of product and service information they would like to receive.

In addition, a privacy board of direct marketing industry experts and physicians will be formed to help shape policy.

Ruske stressed that the database contains no patient information.

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