The 23 participants include Aetna, PlanetRx.com, the California Medical Association, Cisco Systems, Intel, MedicaLogic, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, VeriSign and Securify, among others.
The move follows growing concern about the privacy of medical records online. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission began an inquiry into whether some Internet-based health care firms were improperly sharing personal information collected from visitors to their sites.
The coalition, called the 11.19 Working Group, plans to create a model for online transactions that includes digital credentials for medical professionals. This will allow doctors, technicians, insurers, patients and other medical professionals to safely transmit information online.
"11.19 operates as a forum for discussing the development and adoptions of technologies for securely transmitting health care data across the Internet," said Blackford Middleton, a doctor and executive at MedicaLogic.
Online health care sales are expected to reach $9.8 billion by 2004, up from $600 million this year, according to Jupiter Communications, an Internet research firm.
The group seeks to recruit other participants as well. "We want to open 11.19 to any e-health care vendors or technology providers participating directly in the health care supply chain," Taher Elgaml, president of Securify, said in a statement.
The coalition plans to introduce its first digital certificate policy at the annual conference of the Health Information Management and Systems Society. It then plans to introduce a prototype at the upcoming eHealthcare World conference later this year.