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Leading Silicon Valley Companies to Pilot Internet-based Communication between Employees and Physicians

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Sponsored by the Silicon Valley Employers Forum, WebVisit™ and Electronic Medical Records Permit On-line Clinical Visits and Prescriptions Refills

San Francisco, CA, April 3, 2001 - An innovative program starting this month will link several thousand employees from leading high–tech Silicon Valley companies with their physicians, enabling the employees to conduct online medical visits, request appointments, fill prescriptions, and receive additional health care services on–line.

To optimize physician and patient communication, to enhance satisfaction, to improve quality and to achieve greater administrative efficiencies through technology are the goals of two closely related pilot programs sponsored by the Silicon Valley Employers Forum (SVEF), an affiliate of Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH).

The first pilot tests a set of secure, web–based, health care services—called PAMFOnline—with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) and SVEF members Adobe Systems Incorporated, Cisco Systems, NEC Electronics and Oracle Corporation. PAMFOnline enables users to review key components of their medical record, request appointments, view lab results, request prescription renewals and communicate with their health care team—all online.

"Use of an electronic medical record and other online services will help reduce the time and costs associated with care of our employees and benefit all those involved," said Peter Shott, senior director of benefits, Oracle Corporation.

"As physicians close to the heart of the technology revolution, we're excited about harnessing information and Internet technology for patient care. With PAMFOnline we will be sending healthcare out to patients wherever they are, making it more convenient for them," said Paul Tang, M.D., chief medical information officer at PAMF.

The second pilot uses a proprietary, secure, Internet–based application called webVisit™, developed by Healinx Corporation, to improve communication between patients and physicians, increase care satisfaction, reduce absenteeism, and ultimately lower skyrocketing employer health costs. WebVisit™ is a structured clinical communication program that permits patients to report non–urgent symptoms or other health care needs online directly to their physician.

"This is the first time that high–tech employers have gone directly to healthcare providers to seek an innovative solution to both lowering healthcare costs and improving service, while at the same time enhancing communication between employees and their physicians," said Stirling Somers, executive director of SVEF.

More than just email, WebVisit™ is structured to transform the patient's communication of symptoms into a complete, concise narrative for the doctor. A WebVisit™ begins when the employee logs on to the system from his or her desktop computer through the physician's website or through the Healinx website. The program is linked to individual on–line patient profiles and permits the physician to respond with appropriate recommendations, self–care information, appointments, or prescriptions. This software system takes the patient through a logic process associated with clinical algorithms, so the doctor receives something more than a patient narrative.

A unique feature of this pilot is that it is the only one in the country testing a reimbursement methodology with multiple employers, medical groups and health carriers. Health plans will be able to include e–visits in physician compensation programs. Nearly 2,000 employees will participate from Adobe Systems, Cadence Design Systems, Inc., Cisco Systems, NEC Electronics and Oracle Corporation along with San Jose Good Samaritan Medical Group, Santa Clara IPA, and potentially up to two more medical groups located in the South Bay. The participating health plans are Aetna and one other national carrier.

According to David Hopkins, director of health information improvement for PBGH, "Employers are keenly interested in understanding the role that technology can play in health care. They believe that the Internet can significantly reduce health care administrative costs, lower employee absenteeism, and truly enhance the patient–physician relationship. These pilot programs are a significant step toward harnessing the potential of the Internet in the interest of employee health."

"As purchasers, our members have a dual responsibility," said Peter Lee, president and CEO of PBGH. "We want to assure that our people have access to high quality health care, but we also must seek creative approaches to lowering costs. It just makes sense that the companies that helped to create the power of the Internet would learn to harness it for the benefit of employee health."

The pilots will run for approximately six months, from March through September 2001. The webVisit pilot may be extended for an additional six months.

Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) a major, non–profit coalition of 45 purchasers, is dedicated to improving healthcare quality while moderating cost. Its members annually spend more than $3 billion to provide health coverage to approximately 3 million employees, retirees and their families. PBGH seeks to promote health plan and provider accountability and provide consumers with standardized, comparable data to make the best health care decisions at all levels of care.

Silicon Valley Employers Forum (SVEF), an affiliate of PBGH, is comprised of 15 leading–edge technology companies, dedicated to improving quality in health care and employee benefits through the use of innovative technologies.

Clark Miller
Senior Communications Manager
Pacific Business Group on Health
Telephone: (415) 615–6302
E–mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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