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Is There a Doctor in the Chat Room?

[Toronto, CANADA] If CanadaMD and Malexa Corp. have their way, medical help-seekers won't be yelling, 'Is there a doctor in the house?' but 'Is there is a doctor online?'

Toronto's CanadaMD, an online healthcare company, and Malexa Corp., a clinical trials site management organization, have signed a letter of intent to create a strategic alliance between the two companies.

The companies plan to build a co-branded online clinical trial center to be accessible from the CanadaMD.com Web site. In addition, both companies will join forces in sharing resources, content, marketing initiatives, and strategy, with the goal of offering mutually beneficial services to Canadian health professionals and consumers.

"Malexa has established operations in numerous medical clinics throughout Canada," said CanadaMD founder and president Richard Davis, "and they are in the unique position to facilitate between pharmaceutical company, doctor, and patient."

The parties expect to unveil the co-branded site when the CanadaMD.com main Web site is launched in April 2001. The purpose of the pending site is to facilitate communication between patient, physician, hospital, insurer, employer, laboratory, pharmacy, hospital, and government, resulting in a single environment for all health-related transactions and information.

All of which is good news to today's tech-savvy patients. According to a survey of physicians conducted by Ipsos-Reid for The Medical Post's annual poll of doctors, seven out of 10 Canadian doctors report that patients are appearing for appointments equipped with medical information obtained from the Internet. About 65 percent of physicians reported that online information patients have shared with them has been helpful to the patient's overall well-being. And 73 percent of patients had gathered online information about drugs or medical products while 61 percent compiled online information on treatment protocols.

But while online healthcare sites promise to open the lines of communication between doctors and their patients, a whopping 91 percent of doctors polled said they are at least "somewhat suspicious" of the online medical information their patients obtain. About 25 percent reported being "very suspicious" and five percent were "extremely suspicious."

In the end, an 'applet' a day might not keep the doctor away as tech-savvy patients had once hoped.