Medem starts Online Consultation offering secure e-mail service between doctors and patients

Chicago 17 June 2002Medem, the secure on-line physician network founded by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the United States' medical societies, has launched Online Consultation, a revolutionary service which delivers patient savings, quality care, and direct payment to Medem's 83.000 physician users through secure e-mail with patients. The new Online Consultation service connects patients to their own doctor on a secure network, thereby meeting the exploding patient demand, and expectation, for on-line physician access.

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According to an April 2002 Harris Interactive study, 90 percent of on-line adults want to communicate with their physicians on-line, and over one third, namely 37 percent, are willing to pay for it. The network also allows secure office communication with other third parties, such as hospitals and other providers.

"My patients love the idea of being able to use Online Consultation to communicate with me. They think the cost is a bargain, especially for single mothers or working women where it is difficult to get time off from work to come in to the office", stated Karen Ilika, M.D., a gynaecologist in Washington state who has been using Online Consultation since early May.

Michael Kienzle, M.D., a physician and Chief Technology Officer for the University of Iowa Health System concurred, adding: "The Online Consultation service hits the mark by providing significant benefits to doctors and patients. As a health system, we have been increasingly concerned about liability, HIPAA requirements, and physician productivity issues associated with standard e-mail. My own experience with the Medem system has been excellent."

Over 90 percent of physicians use e-mail but only ten percent use e-mail with patients, according to national physicians surveys. "The primary obstacles have been payment for physician time and liability concerns", stated Medem's CEO, Edward Fotsch, M.D. "After nearly two years of intense effort with medical societies and liability carriers, we have solved both of these problems, and doctors and patients will now benefit."

Mark Gorney, M.D., the Medical Director for The Doctor's Company, one of the countries largest physician liability carriers, confirmed the importance of providing liability protection to doctors who communicate on-line by stating: "Medem's work, in concert with liability carriers, has taken a major step toward making sure that the Internet is a safe place for doctors and patients."

Online Consultation utilises Medem's Secure Messaging, a structured, encrypted alternative to regular e-mail which adheres to the on-line communication guidelines established by the eRisk Working Group for Healthcare, a consortium of national medical societies and liability carriers representing over 70 percent of insured physicians.

The service also helps doctors provide patients with links to clinical information from medical societies, and provides other on-line tools to assist physicians in communicating with patients. Physicians determine the reimbursement amount and expected turnaround time for their Online Consultations.

The fee-based Online Consultation service is added to Medem's other free network services, all available to patients through their own doctor's Web site, which include Secure Messaging, where patients can pose administrative questions to their physician's office including appointment requests and prescription renewal requests, and get access to trusted and award-winning medical information directly from the nation's medical societies.

Physicians on the Medem Network receive a practice Web site, access to Secure Messaging with patients and other providers, access to new insured patients through health plan links to 55 million covered lives, and now direct revenue through Online Consultation.

"The AMA and the other medical societies founded Medem to ensure that, as e-health evolves, it evolves in a way which maintains the integrity of the patient-physician relationship, and that the bond is protected and strengthened", noted Michael Maves, M.D., CEO of the American Medical Association.

"Online Consultation not only improves care quality and efficiency, but it reduces patients' out-of-pocket costs, when lost wages, co-pays, gas and parking, and other fees associated with an office visit are factored in, not to mention patient inconvenience and employer productivity", stated Dunbar Hoskins, M.D., EVP of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Medem Chairman.

Founded by the nation's medical societies, Medem is the premier physician practice communications network on the Internet, providing secure communications, transactions, and integrated Web-based services for the physician practices. More information about Medem is available in the VMW August 2001 article Medem secure messaging big hit among doctors, integrated delivery networks, and health plans.


Leslie Versweyveld

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