HIV Counseling Service Turns To E-Commerce Technology

Home Access Health, an Illinois-based drug company, announced at the Internet Commerce Expo in San Francisco, California that it is using the technology of FaceTime Communications to provide online counseling for HIV patients.

FaceTime technology was originally designed to enable e-commerce sites to provide live, real-time customer service functions to online shoppers. Now it seems that health-related sites are also taking advantage of FaceTime’s live interaction capabilities for communication purposes rather than for sales support.

Home Access Health said that it provides confidential counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people with questions about HIV and Hepatitis C. The company sells its testing kits in 30,000 retail drug store outlets across the United States.

“With FaceTime, we were able to easily extend our services online. Visitors to the Home Access Health Web site can click on an icon to set up a conversation with a counselor,” said Home Access CEO Tracey Powell. “It’s easy and it enables us to broaden the reach of our counseling services.”

Maximizing E-Commerce Technology

FaceTime Communications co-founder and CEO David Hsieh agreed that his company’s product was the right match for the needs of Home Access Health.

“What we offered was a perfect fit for Home Access Health,” Hsieh told the E-Commerce Times. “Their customers are people who are looking for medically-related advice in a secure, confidential and anonymous manner.”

Hsieh said that FaceTime — the only vendor licensed to run commercial sales and customer service applications on AOL’s Instant Messenger Network — has seen an increase in medical and health-related companies securing its products and services.

Growth Spurt

For example, last month, Gazoontite.com, an online source for allergy and asthma sufferers, signed on as a FaceTime client.

So too have a number of others in recent days. In fact, according to Hsieh, the company has signed over 40 customers in the last 90 days. “Our customer base is growing by leaps and bounds. We have some awesome momentum, particularly as we lead up to the holiday season,” he commented.

Boston, Massachusetts-based Yankee Group predicts that the online customer service applications market could reach $1 billion (US$) by 2003. A number of other companies are also developing products to meet the expected demands, including Beaverton, Oregon-based eFusion and Austin, Texas-based Acuity Corp.

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