Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., the U.S. pharmaceuticals business of Aventis Pharma AG, has launched an Internet-based communications platform designed to link family physicians to patients.

The service enables two-way, secure communication, and provides convenient access to information and services designed enhance the delivery of patient care.

The new system, called MyDocOnline, provides patients, physicians and their staff with a suite of online communication tools that enable them to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, receive specialist referrals, view laboratory results, receive answers to medical and billing questions, verify insurance eligibility and obtain general and specific health information online.

"MyDocOnline was created in response to a growing demand by physicians, patients, and health plans for personalised, Internet-based applications to better meet patients’ and physicians’ needs," said Kirk Schueler, chief executive officer of MyDocOnline and senior vice president of e-Business at Aventis.

Designed for easy customisation of content, templates and medical information to physicians’ specifications, MyDocOnline uses open architecture to enable integration with most existing practice management systems. It also meets the stringent data security requirements of the US HIPAA regulations.

A pilot program involving more than 100 patients was carried out at the Austin Regional Clinic (ARC), a multi-specialty group of physicians and health care professionals in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Norman Chenven, executive vice president of the Austin Regional Clinic, said the pilot showed the service complemented existing practices at the clinic and gave patients unprecedented access to their physician’s offices. "Through convenient and direct connectivity, patients were empowered to better manage their own health care with credible, relevant information from a trusted reliable source, their personal physicians."

The MyDocOnline service will initially be offered to large group practices and expand to smaller practice groups by year-end. Aventis will charge subscription and transaction fees for the service. A flash animated demonstration of the service is available on the MyDocOnline site.

The MyDocOnline platform forms a key component of Aventis’ wider e-Business strategy, which the company says is focused on leveraging technology to enhance patient outcomes. MyDocOnline was acquired by Aventis Pharmaceuticals in October 2000.

Aventis is using emerging technologies throughout its business, including pioneering innovation in the areas of drug discovery, e-detailing, e-clinical development, disease management, e-recruitment and mobile solutions, among others.