SANTA ROSA: Urologist Group Tests ‘Physicians Home Page’
Physicians in Santa Rosa's Redwood Urology Group are serving as guinea pigs for an Internet program called "Physicians Home Page," which provides a medium for patients to contact their physicians, access medical information, and request prescription refills, among other capabilities, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The technology was developed by Physicians e-Care with the goal of "putting patients in touch with their doctors." Marc Fine, president of Physicians e-Care, said the company chose a urology group for their pilot project, as "certain medical specialties lend themselves better to collection of database information." For the past month, the program has allowed the Redwood Urology Group patients to send e-mails to doctors, schedule appointments, obtain lab results, update medical records and request prescription refills. To date, about 100 patients of Redwood Urology Group physicians have participated in the program. Dr. Robert James, Santa Rosa urologist and transplant surgeon, said, "My patients like the content ... and the ability to e-mail me any time. ... I found that responding to e-mail was so much better than playing phone tag." The site also provides medical information, such as a "care map" that walks patients through symptoms and conditions, and "frequently asked questions." Through the Web site, the group hopes to equip patients with medical information "so their visit to the office can be quality time with the physician," Fine said. He noted the with the duration of patient visits on the decline, "you want patients focused and involved from the very beginning of the session."
Patient Privacy Concerns
With Medical privacy topping the list of the groups concerns, which include the risk of e-mail and Internet- accessible records creating a "paper trail" in the event of a lawsuit, physicians e-Care has employed the "Secure Socket Layer" technology to ensure the security of patient files. Dr. James said security of patient information "is a concern but it is better to have a more complete system for tracking information on a patient than a file folder with Post-Its." The Physicians Home Page will eventually be sold to physician groups for between $1,000 and $2,000 a year (Rose, 9/18).