Perot Systems and the Cleveland Clinic began working together to develop the secure Internet site and second opinion application in October 2000. In October 2001 they began testing e-Cleveland Clinic to a select market segment. They anticipate launching the service in February 2002. Initially, the e-Cleveland Clinic programme is being offered through major employers who are providing the service as a new health care benefit enhancement for their employees.
In addition to the second opinion service, the programme also includes a health information search tool, and an on-line health newsletter. "With the growth of consumer use of the Internet for health information and services, we began experiencing a significant increase in the number of patients calling or sending e-mail to see if we could provide consultation via the Internet", stated C. Martin Harris, M.D., M.B.A., chief information officer and chairman of the Information Technology Division at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and executive director of e-Cleveland Clinic.
A study from the Pew Foundation's Internet and American Life Project reported that 52 million adults searched for medical information on-line last year, a three-fold increase since 1983. Dr. Harris continued: "One success criteria for e-Cleveland Clinic was establishing a partnership with a technology firm capable of pushing the edge of the envelope in the e-health marketplace. Perot Systems continues to be an invaluable partner in our endeavour."
A survey of on-line health information seekers indicated that people wanted the ability to seek a second opinion as conveniently and quickly as possible. By creating a secure Web site, the Cleveland Clinic has facilitated the second opinion process. If the patient has a diagnosis that is appropriate for this service, patients can access the expertise of the Cleveland Clinic doctors at any time, without travelling. The doctors can review the information, along with original test results, X-ray films, etc., which the patient has sent to the doctor, and can provide a response in a short period of time.
"In conjunction with Perot Systems, we have developed a system which provides increased access for patients everywhere to our clinical expertise by integrating our virtual patients into the everyday clinical routine of our 1100 Cleveland Clinic doctors", stated Jonathan L. Schaffer, M.D., M.B.A., managing director of e-Cleveland Clinic and an orthopaedic surgeon. "Creating a system that used Web technology to facilitate this process seemed to be an ideal solution."