Over at Microsoft, reports HealthBlog, they are using their tried and true “eat your own dogfood” approach to open the lines of communication between docs and patients by getting their own employees to be the early users of the system. Dr. Crounse writes:
…we learned that patients really like being able to correspond with their physicians by e-mail, and physicians enjoy providing clinical cognitive services electronically when they get paid for doing so. We also learned that such technology enhances the physician-patient relationship, and more importantly, that our employees didn’t abuse physicians with unnecessary or unwarranted communication.
Roll forward a few years. Microsoft has announced that we will once again test consultations between physicians and patients with Seattle-based Virginia Mason Medical Center and a PPO operated by Premera Blue Cross in Washington. Under the pilot, Premera will reimburse physicians for online consultations for non-urgent care with a small group of Microsoft employees and dependents. The Blues plan, medical center, and employer all will track results.
Seems like an excellent test case and I look forward to learning more about how well Microsoft’s employees (who are obviously technically adept) and a local Seattle physician community (also technically adept) can make this work. If it works here it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in all settings but it’s great to see that Microsoft is putting their money where their mouth is and I hope they’re able to show that it’s worth trying. I, for one, am tired of hearing why things won’t work before anyone’s even really tried it. I respect Microsoft really giving it attention.
I, for one, would love a virtual office visit. As long as I don’t have to stare at the screen waiting for my doctor for 30 minutes. 🙂