Silicon Valley Companies to Link Employees, Doctors via Email
Six self-insured Silicon Valley companies will participate in a pilot program starting next month that will offer employees online access to their physicians, the Wall Street Journal reports. The six companies, Cisco Systems Inc., Oracle Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Cadence Design Systems Inc., the NEC Electronics unit of Japan's NEC Corp. and one unnamed company, all belong to the Silicon Valley Employers Forum, a not-for-profit coalition established to find ways to "use technology to offer quality, affordable health care and other employee benefits, and increase worker satisfaction." Through an online system provided by Alameda-based Healinx Corp., 2,000 employees who see about 100 participating area physicians will be able to send messages about non-urgent health care issues to either their doctor's Web site or the Healinx Web site. Patients may complete a concise form that is sent to either a nurse of physician for evaluation. If the patient's symptoms are deemed serious, the provider arranges an office visit. If not, the provider can issue an online prescription that is automatically forwarded to the patient's pharmacy. The Healinx system automatically submits an electronic claim to the patient's insurer. Physicians participating in the plan will receive $20 per Web "visit," an amount employers say is "competitive" with the fees paid by managed care plans. To protect patient privacy, the messages will be encrypted and stored exclusively on Healinx's secure server. The pilot will be evaluated on employees' and physicians' satisfaction, employee absenteeism rates and costs over a six-to-nine month period (Carrns, Wall Street Journal, 3/23).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.