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US Health Insurances Pay For Email - Ward Rounds


US Health Insurances Pay For Email - Ward Rounds

By Marietta Gross

Scoop Report: Physicians in the United States have for some time been using the internet to dictate notes to secretaries located thousands of kilometres away, but now physicians are increasingly using the internet for consultations.

Counselling via email often replaces a personal ward round by the doctor, reports the New York Times. It reports that doctors and patients are pleased by the new electronic opportunities - especially persons suffering from chronic diseases such as asthma or diabetes who benefit from being able to ask their general practitioner quickly for advice in an uncomplicated manner via email.

“Frequent users” who need regular contact with their doctor can keep in touch with him (or her) permanently or get advice more easily on how to observe the assigned therapy. Via email patients can express themselves more accurately. “Again and again I’m wondering on how intelligent our patients are. They are able to express definitely, what is going on, if they are given enough time”, says Barbara Walters, chief physician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center http://www.dhmc.org/ in New Hampshire.

Several health insurances have recognized the advantages of email ward rounds and pay the doctors the same amount which would be paid for a personal ward round. Blue Shield http://www.bcbs.com from California for example refunds 25 US$ for email consultations which is exactly the same amount which they would pay their doctors for a personal visit. Other health insurance companies take on at least a part of the costs for email-consulting.

Doctors review online-consultations quite positively. They could advise their patients faster and more comprehensively and thereupon they got even more time left for those patients, who really need personal contact. The legal site is rated positively as well: Emails provide evidence for the medical advice and the physicians do not have to grapple with false accusations.

The companies hope for a reduction of consultations during the labour time. Cisco http://www.cisco.com sponsors a one-year-trial with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation http://www.pamf.org/ in which 500 Cisco-employees participate. They want to find out to which extent the online-consultation can decrease the absences of employees. These costs have risen by 10 per cent per year, reports Cisco’s company doctor Jeff Rideout.

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