Physician's Online Adds Services, Partnerships

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Physicians' Online, Tarrytown, NY, unveiled a host of partnerships and new services this month aimed at saving time for physicians by helping them manage their practices over the Internet.

Physicians' Online is an Internet community of doctors that is free for physicians and financed by pharmaceutical advertisers and other partners.

The new enhancements to the service include voice recognition technology, more direct involvement in clinical trials, online ordering of pharmaceutical samples and a searchable directory of physician home pages available for consumer use.

While the enhancements are aimed at improving the service for physician members, the most obvious advantage to advertisers is that if the enhancements take off, members will spend much more time on the site, allowing for increased advertisement face time. In addition, there have been discussions about allowing advertisers to sponsor physician home pages on the new consumer-accessed site, opening a window to direct-to-consumer advertising, although those talks are in the early stages.

Specifically, the new services include a partnership with voice recognition company Conita Technologies that will allow physicians to retrieve and manage e-mail remotely from telephones; a partnership with Quintiles Transnational that will enable physicians to participate in clinical trials through a secure virtual private network; an alliance with IMS Health to include the development of a new service that will allow physicians to perform research over the Internet; a partnership with IMS Health's Clark-O'Neill unit that will result in the construction of an online pharmaceutical sample fulfillment system; a partnership with Merck-Medco that will aid physicians in refilling prescriptions online; and a partnership with NDC Health Information Services to verify claims eligibility and authorize referrals online.

It was members, advertisers, and other partners who helped the company decide to add the new enhancements.

"Much of the discussions of these ideas came about from members telling us what they want," said president/CEO David Richards. "They can e-mail us and have online discussions about ideas."

Current advertising windows include a banner at the bottom of the homepage of the physicians' site that can be targeted based on physicians' medical ID numbers. The banners can carry messages addressed to doctors in a specific field, or even specific doctors by name. The ad at the bottom of the page rotates, allowing several advertisers to use the space. The physician's home page also includes banner ads with links to Novartis and from MD Direct Recruiting at the top left corner.

Pharmaceutical companies and other advertisers also sponsor discussion groups on specific topics.

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