E-HEALTH ROUNDUP: Newsflashes from Cyberspace
"The health care industry is evolving into an integrated, online network with the new Internet-based companies serving as the glue that holds it together," Sutro & Co. manager Joseph Boystak said last week at the 1999 International Expo, sponsored by the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association (HIGPA). Boystak stated that the "Internet and 'e-health applications' will fundamentally change the way information is transmitted, people are connected and commerce is conducted in the health care industry" (Sutro & Co. release, 10/21). A round-up of recente-health news:
- Predicting that the popular "Internet-based health applications won't reach their potential unless there's a way to confirm that people who say they are doctors really are doctors," the American Medical Association and Intel Corp. have teamed up in an effort to establish a "secure way to transfer health information over the Internet," American Medical News reports. The two organizations have come up with a "digital credential," a verification process that begins when a physician sends information to the AMA, which checks the information against its "Physicians Masterfile." After the information is confirmed, the AMA issues an online identification card that the doctor can use for any online transaction, like sending e-mail, transcriptions, requests for medical records or other communications. A novel approach to online registries, the digital credential will enable physicians to send accurate information to one another without anyone else gaining access or questioning their identity (Cook, 10/25).
- Last week in Chicago, Cisco Systems, Inc. and Modern Healthcare magazine sponsored the Third Annual Innovation in Healthcare Information Technology Awards, encouraging various health care institutions to "develop Internet solutions to improve operational efficiency and improve patient care" (Modern Healthcare release, 10/19).
- A double mastectomy and breast reconstruction operation on a Pennsylvania woman was broadcast live over the Internet. An estimated 500,000 people watched the "intricate" four-hour operation. Patti Derman approached St. Mary Medical Center and The Health Network cable channel asking that the "Webcast" be aired and said, "If I can save one women's life by making her more proactive about her health, then the Webcast will be worthwhile" (Doster Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/21).
- E-Healthcare Connections ( http://www.ehealthcareconnections.com) last week reviewed more than "100 highly regarded hospitals, health systems and medical group web sites," and found that many new medical related Web sites lack patient interaction with providers. A notable exception is the Carle Clinic and Carle Foundation in Urbana, IL, which offers "virtual physicals" (E-Healthcare Connection release, 10/18).
- A "distinguished" group of professors from 15 medical schools launched a "unique" consumer health Web site last week, TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com, which intends to take consumers "beyond existing popular consumer health sites," featuring "content-rich" articles written by "specialists in women's health, senior living, behavior, cancer, nutrition, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis" (interMDnet Corporation release, 10/18).
- The Bonfils Blood Center in Denver has signed the "first contract for revolutionary software" -- SafeTraceTx.com -- to provide hospitals with a system to monitor blood inventory over the Internet or Intranet. Developed by Global Med Technologies, Inc., the software allows hospitals and blood centers to communicate over the internet using 128-bit encryption technology or an intranet line (Global Med Technologies release, 10/14).
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida has formed a partnership with InsWeb of San Mateo, California, to furnish price quotes for people seeking health insurance over the Internet, the Business Journal of Jacksonville reports. Robert Sebok, vice president of corporate sales and marketing, said, "The Internet enhances our ability to provide members with access to quality and affordable health care" (Guity, 10/18).