East Bay Business Times Profiles Efforts To Market Online Physician Consultation Systems
The East Bay Business Times last week examined the efforts of two Bay Area companies, Emeryville-based Healinx Corp. and San Francisco-based Medem Inc., to market online physician consultation systems. According to the companies, employers and employees can reduce costs through online physician consultation for "minor medical problems and questions." A study released in June by research company Jupiter Media Metrix estimated that large health plans that covered online consultations with physicians could save as much as $12 million per year in medical costs. Summaries of the companies' marketing efforts appear below:
- Healinx, in partnership with Blue Shield of California, has concluded a pilot study that examined patient usage and satisfaction with online physician consultations. The two companies will begin to review data this week and plan to publish results in the fall. According to the Times, the results could "drive decisions" by health insurers on whether they will begin to cover online consultations. Blue Shield will likely make a decision by the end of the year on whether to begin coverage or expand the pilot study to collect more data. Aetna Inc. and HealthNet of California also may cover online consultations.
- Medem hopes to convince physicians that they can earn an additional $5,000 to $10,000 in annual revenue through online consultations with five to 10 patients per week. Medem charges patients between $20 and $30 per online consultation. The company also charges physicians $2.50 per transaction for payment collection and other services related to the consultation. Medem has offered services for a few weeks and has distributed more than 1,000 checks to physicians who have begun to offer online consultations, according to CEO Ed Fotsch (Thomas, East Bay Business Times, 7/12).
In related news, officials from Healinx announced today that San Diego State University has licensed the company's online consultation system, with services set to begin Aug. 1. The system will allow SDSU Student Health Services to communicate with university students or staff members online. In addition, the system will allow users to schedule appointments, receive laboratory results or referrals and read medical information. The university also plans to issue health-related newsletters and updates through the system (Healinx release, 7/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.