A new study from Manhattan Research reveals that about 7 percent of US physicians are currently doing web video chats with their patients. The practice is most common in certain specialties such as mental health or oncology where patients benefit from more frequent, and convenient contact with the physicians or other clinicians caring for them. In an article published by Health IT News, Manhattan Research president, Meredith Ressi said, "Telemedicine has the potential to open up consultations with top specialists, regardless of your location. Combined with the impending shortage of primary care physicians, the implications of these technologies for how healthcare is delivered in our country are remarkable." Although clinicians continue to have concerns regarding reimbursement, security and HIPAA when using video chat technology, the trend in using the technology is only expected to grow. And video chatting isn’t the only way patients are getting more connected to their care and care providers.
One example of providing patients with better tools to help keep them informed and in-touch with the medical professionals caring for them comes from a joint announcement made today by Microsoft HealthVault and a large provider of mental health and substance abuse services in the UK, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). SLaM treats people in South London and offers specialist services for people from across the country. The Maudsley Hospital is one of a number of facilities operated by SLaM.
SLaM and Microsoft are working in partnership to develop a personal online health record for people using mental health services. Using Microsoft’s privacy and security-enhanced HealthVault platform, SLaM will be able to offer an online solution that enables clinicians and patients to work collaboratively on care and treatment by providing patients secure access to their health records and the facility to contribute to them directly. According to officials at SLaM, this represents the next phase in patient choice by empowering patients to shape and influence their care and treatment plans. The aim is to encourage a more equal dialogue between patient and clinician and improve the nature of the relationship. It ultimately puts the patient in greater control of their healthcare, allowing individuals to become more engaged.
SlaM’s aim is to develop a web portal that uses the HealthVault platform to provide patients with access to their health records and also encourages a two-way flow of information between clinicians and patients. The Trust will be working with patients and clinicians to develop the system over the next few months. According to Martin Baggaley, Medical Director at SlaM, “Patients engage in different ways with their clinicians and often express desire to be more involved in the treatment and services they receive. This is why we see Microsoft HealthVault as a valuable tool in helping us to move in the direction of considering and strengthening the patient-clinician relationship by working in partnership with patients to facilitate their recovery journeys.”
Microsoft partner, Get Real Consulting, has been selected by SLaM, to define and implement two HealthVault-compatible web applications based on GRC’s proprietary, award-winning patient health management platform, InstantPHR. The web applications will be developed in collaboration with SLaM service users and clinicians.
For patients suffering with mental health disorders, and desiring more frequent contact with the clinicians and information resources they need, the new web services platform provided by SLaM should be welcome relief. It’s yet another great example for the ways that information technology can improve access to services and help keep patients better connected with their care.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft