TECHNOLOGY: Online consults growing (but slowly) in California

I’ve been continuing to watch the online consult service provided by RelayHealth (the former Healinx). It’s an online system allowing secure interactions and requests from patients to doctors’ offices. It’s up and running in Mass and in California, sponsored by Blues plans in both places. The SF Business Times reports that about 1,000 California doctors have signed up. Apparently, Blue Cross of California plus Healthnet are about to join anchor tenant Blue Shield in reimbursing for online visits. What does the services do?

    RelayHealth’s approach, which incorporates reimbursement for physicians along with other clinical and business-oriented components — such as scheduling appointments, refilling prescriptions, obtaining lab results, updating patient information, collecting copayments and submitting claims — is rapidly changing physicians’ attitudes. It isn’t intended for emergency or urgent-care situations, and generally allows physicians the flexibility to respond within an eight-hour time frame.

    “The structured web visit is the sexiest thing,” notes Darryl Cardoza, Hill Physicians’ chief operating officer, but other functions, such as electronic prescriptions and appointment scheduling, “are equally important.”

Of course Healinx has been pushing this since 1999 and only 1,000 of California’s 60,000 doctors are signed up–meaning that it takes years to become an overnight sensation.

Hat-tip to iHealthbeat

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