New Service Allows Doctors to Make Web Calls

New Service Allows Doctors to Make Web Calls
Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 9 january 2009

We’ve previously written about Brooklyn’s Dr. Jay Parkinson and his subscription based Hello Health platform, and now the NY Times directs us to a new web service named American Well that hopes to institute many of these same innovations, but on a larger scale.  The company’s first customer is the Hawaii Medical Services Association which will launch their online house call service – available to everyone in the state – on January 15th.  The idea is to provide patients a low cost option to expensive office visits and easier access to physicians for simple consultations that don’t require meeting face-to face.  The NY Times reports:

Patients use the service by logging on to participating health plans’ Web sites. Doctors hold 10-minute appointments, which can be extended for a fee, and can file prescriptions and view patients’ medical histories through the system. American Well is working with HealthVault, Microsoft’s electronic medical records service, and ActiveHealth Management, a subsidiary of Aetna, which scans patients’ medical history for gaps in their previous care and alerts doctors during their American Well appointment.

Some skeptics fear that relying on this model too heavily may lead to misdiagnoses by missing symptoms that might otherwise be caught during an in-person visit, while others feel that it fails to deliver truly universal care considering that it requires users to have access to both a broadband connection and webcam. Still, proponents feel that given the alternative of simply not being seen, this service can provide a valuable resource to patients seeking care.  Doctors in favor of this measure also cite its ability to offer timely access to advice that might be the difference in saving a person’s life.

With the rising cost of healthcare in the US and the push to institute a National Healthcare System, we expect to see more states adopt these same platforms, a move that can only lead to greater advances and improvements in these same technologies.   

NY Times: Doctors Will Make Web Calls in Hawaii


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