Healtheon/WebMD, Atlanta, last week reached terms to acquire Envoy Corp., the electronic data interchange division of Quintiles Transnational Corp., for $2.5 billion in cash and stock. Envoy, Research Triangle Park, N.C., processed nearly 2 billion electronic transactions last year for hospitals, health plans, physicians, pharmacies and dentists.
In a separate deal valued at $100 million, Healtheon/WebMD reached an agreement last week with medical device firm Medtronic, Minneapolis, to provide targeted healthcare information on the Internet to physicians and consumers.
Physician use of the World Wide Web has nearly doubled in two years, to 37% in 1999 from 20% in 1997, according to the American Medical Association. The percentage of physicians who use a computer remains unchanged, at 41%. Among physicians who use a computer but do not have access to the Internet, 58% said they plan to acquire Internet access in the next six months. Physicians also have been setting up more of their own Web sites to provide patients with educational information and promote their practices, the AMA reported. The data was contained in a follow-up to a 1997 study on physician computer use.
Three-quarters of Internet users are concerned that the private healthcare information they provide to Internet sites will be shared with a third party without their permission, according to a survey released last week. The survey, conducted by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Internet Healthcare Coalition, found that only 3% of Internet users wanted their online health information to be shared without their permission with other sites, companies and advertisers. Internet users are reluctant to have their medical records online because they fear it could be misused, the survey found (See cover story, p. 24).
The Federal Trade Commission earlier this month charged an Internet marketer with falsely representing the accuracy of HIV tests. The FTC charges that San Diego-based Alfa Scientific Designs falsely claimed its tests detected HIV antibodies in human blood or serum with great accuracy. The FTC found the tests often produced false negative results.
The American Hospital Association has ceased publication of its 55-year-old Hospital and Health Administration Index, a voluminous compilation of healthcare literature. The index has fallen victim to technology, with people now preferring to access such material online, said Richard Wade, the AHA's senior vice president for communications. The last edition of the Index will be sent to subscribers during the first quarter. The material will still be provided through the Bethesda, Md.-based National Library of Medicine's database. The National Library of Medicine published the index in collaboration with the AHA.