Telemedicine

Social network for doctors, insurers to better coordinate

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WellNet Healthcare is launching the beta version of its so-called “healthcare social network solution,” that will act as a point to point healthcare system connecting doctors, medical records, and insurers in a web-based environment. WellNet wants a world where two of your doctors can view your medical records online, while chatting via instant messenger about the best medication or solution to a problem. It might be sooner than you think. WellNet already knows a thing a two about this, since its built its business collecting detailed data on employees’ medical and pharmacy activity so companies can better evaluate their company-sponsored health plans. By building on this methodology and a proven track record, WellNet wants to overcome the privacy concerns, and the insurance implications to move your healthcare experience online, according to the Washington Post.  One of the biggest problems hindering adoption of such a technique, is the fact that most older doctors simply have no interest in learning a whole new system. Besides that, WellNet must persuade its network of over 300,000 primary-care doctors to start working with patients online- which is a very daunting task. “It depends how simple it is to use these online tools,” said Joseph Heyman, chairman of the American Medical Association’s board. “Most physicians right now are on a hamster wheel. They have trouble keeping up. If it means extra work, and it’s not a time-saver, they’re generally not interested.” Still, it makes sense to move in this direction. Imagine scheduling simple check-ups online, and keeping a wellness journal that your doctor can review online, or even being able to rate your doctor online to keep him honest. It would improve the whole process in almost every aspect. For companies, the system will allow your employees to create a personal network uniting their insurance claims manager with multiple doctors and pharmacies to better coordinate treatments. An online concierge helps workers find new specialists, and a message system reminds them to pick up prescriptions. Privacy groups are already pouncing, saying web-based medical records present a huge security risk, as well as groups saying companies can learn way to much about your medical history by using such a system- something they already do, so it’s not really a big deal. Still, it’s what will happen in the future no matter what, the only question is who will be there to support it, and who does it first. Google and Yahoo are both already developing their own strategies, as well as many others, so the race is on. Will it be WellNet?

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