Healthblog readers know that I am a huge proponent for technologies that improve communication and collaboration between physicians and their patients. Patients want to be able to reach doctors by e-mail. They want access to their lab results and medical records. They’d like to be able to schedule office appointments on-line and sometimes even “see” their doctor on-line. They want help managing chronic conditions and exchanging information with their physicians and other caregivers.
You’ve read my rants on how far behind the health industry is, especially in the US, in providing these kinds of services to patients. Where such services are offered, it is typically the large integrated networks and particularly staff-model HMO’s that have invested in the appropriate technologies to communicate and collaborate with patients on-line. There are business and reimbursement reasons why this is so. It is also the case because physicians in solo or small group practices haven’t had the IT experience or resources to match the capabilities of their much larger cousins.
An announcement today by the American Medical Association will go a long way in helping to level the playing field. The AMA, in partnership with Microsoft HealthVault and portal developer, Covisint, will offer its physician members their own web portal.
The portal will make it possible for patients and their personal physicians to exchange vital healthcare information by connecting through HealthVault, a platform developed by Microsoft to store and maintain personal health and fitness info. Through this collaboration, physicians will be able to access self reported patient health information, once granted access by the patient, while providing patients access to vital information created during office visits.
The AMA has been working on this for more than a year, and it’s aimed at helping physicians better meet their practice-related needs. Primary offerings will include: clinical resources, practice and revenue management tools, e-prescribing and electronic health record applications and professional development resources. The AMA portal will also allow for personalized content, search capabilities and learning and networking opportunities, none of which requires great technological expertise to implement.
While attending the Microsoft Connected Health Conference in Bellevue today, I had an opportunity to sit down with AMA President Elect, Dr. James Rohack, to ask him some questions about the new portal and the kinds of services it will provide to physicians and their patients.
“Many practicing physicians are feeling overwhelmed right now,” Dr. Rohack said. “They want help in meeting the demands of their day-to-day practices. Our goal is to provide them easy access to the tools and technologies that can help them, especially those who are looking to implement health IT into their practices. The AMA’s expertise is health care, but by collaborating with companies like Microsoft and Covisint, we can offer physicians sound IT solutions that keep health, patient care and medical practice at the forefront.”
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft