Posted by: kenwbudd | May 28, 2010

eHealth, EMR and Web 2.0

eHealth, EMR and Web 2.0

While telemedicine may seem a cold and impersonal approach to patient care, physicians say it’s exactly the opposite. And they are quickly embracing it as a way to foster a more intimate relationship with patients and educate them about treatments prior to office visits.

“We’re getting very positive feedback from patients,” said Dr. Eric Christianson, assistant medical director of the emergency room at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. Fairview now has 36 physicians who are beta-testing patient Web 2.0 services powered by software from SaaS provider American Well.

Physicians take shifts during which they commit to being available for online sessions with patients. Fairview’s hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend.

American Well partnered with Microsoft to use its HealthVault EMR service (Electronic Medical Records), which allows patients to securely store their entire medical history online. Test results and radiological images can also be uploaded to the online records. Patients control access to their information and must specify who can see the records. Google Health is another popular online EMR service also being used to access patient information online.

BlueCross and BlueShield of Minnesota makes the online patient services available to employers, who then offer it to employees. There is a $10 or $20 co-payment fee for members, and nonmembers can use the services for $50 per session. In other states, however, BlueCross and BlueShield offers the services to any member, regardless of employer.

Social networking sites get in the game

It’s not only secure videoconferencing, IM or e-mail that’s being used to bolster communication with patients. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are also being used by physician practices and hospitals to disseminate health information and create online communities where patients can share their experiences.

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