Tuesday, November 21, 2006

E-care - Health care hits the Web

E-care - Health care hits the Web: "E-mails and phone calls paid at least in part by insurers are a fast-growing solution to a common ailment in health care: the unnecessary visit to the doctor's office.

Doctors have used phone calls for years to cut down on these visits — to tell patients with simple colds to stay home, counsel patients with chronic diseases or prescribe obvious treatments. But now clinic groups and insurers have begun to make this a more formal medical service. And insurers have agreed in the past year to pay at least for medical advice via e-mail, also known as e-care.

'The future is going to require us to do this,' said Dr. Michael McGrail, associate medical director of HealthPartner's primary care division. He cited estimates that up to 40 percent of office visits are unnecessary.

Clinics and their leaders said they have an additional incentive to use e-care: They need to increase the speed and convenience of their services so they won't lose patients with simple infections or illnesses to the growing number of retail walk-in facilities such as MinuteClinics."

I am sure patients would be happy to pay for this ! Who wants to go to a doctor's clinic and wait around to see the doctor for a routine problem ( most medical problems for which patients go to a doctor are routine , simple and self-limited ) which could be managed sitting at home !

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