Saturday, April 11, 2009

A new version of "Social Medicine" (as in in "Social Network Medicine")

Feeling sick?  Need to see a doctor?  Get out your laptop.  Not to look up the location or phone number of a doctor's office, but to "e-visit" your doctor.  

One Brooklyn, NY based physician practice is transforming medical practice and seeing patients through online visits with social networks.  "Hello Health" offers visits with your doctor through instant messaging (IM), video chats, or for extra fees, a personal home visit.  Patients enroll on their website (link below), do a one-time in person visit, pay a monthly fee of $35, and then pay for the type of visit they wish thereafter (video, home, IM, etc).  There are already 300 patients, and the company has only existed for less than a year.  A second practice is opening in the West Village, NYC.  

This new model does come with risks--such as the protection of patient's electronic health records (EHR) and quality of care for patients (ensuring standards of care).   Also, if allowed to use video to see your patient, doctors and patients don't have to be in the same city, state, or country.  So, the practice of medicine raises issues in various geographical licensure issues.  These issues will have to be addressed with the new health care delivery model.

However, there are no more wait times.  Simultaneously "tweet" your friends and your doctor, while sitting around at home.  As long as you have the internet (and some spare money--not yet covered by insurance), you have access to a doctor.  And imagine the worker productivity changes--instead of missing a 1/2 day to a full day of work (and vehicle mileage), you can take a 20 minute break from work to have a video visit with your doc.  That sounds appealing.

Social networks--facebook, twitter, myspace, etc--are on the rise.  Should the delivery of medical care join the social network revolution?  

Article in Health Affairs:

"Hello Health's" website:

CNN story on Hello Health:

No comments: