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Medicaid Doctors and Dentists Gaming the EHR Incentive Program

Posted on June 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I guess I should have known that it would only be a matter of time before I’d see something like this come out. As best I can tell, Dentrix has partnered with Henry Schein to offer what they’re calling Dentrix Meaningful Use Access 7.6. Seems like Henry Schein is using the Dentrix names to get Dentists access to the Medicaid EHR incentive money. On face, I don’t see any problem with this.

Although, once you start to dig into it, it appears that Dentrix and Henry Schein are partnering to get Dentists the first Medicaid EHR incentive check without even implementing the EHR. You have to remember that the Medicaid EHR stimulus money doesn’t require you to show meaningful use of the EHR. You just have to acquire the EHR technology.

Look at some of the verbiage from the website for the program:

Definition of Adopt, Implement, or Upgrade:
For Medicaid, the eligible provider must Adopt, Implement, or Upgrade (AIU) certified EHR software. As posted on the CMS website, for AIU, a provider does not have to have installed certified EHR technology. The definition of AIU in 42 CFR 495.302 allows the provider to demonstrate AIU through any of the following:
*Acquiring, purchasing or securing access to certified EHR technology
*Installing or commencing utilization of certified EHR technology capable of meeting meaningful use requirements
or
*Expanding the available functionality of certified EHR technology capable of meeting meaningful use requirements at the practice site, including staffing, maintenance, and training, or upgrade from existing EHR technology to certified EHR technology per the ONC EHR certification criteria.

Thus, a signed contract indicating that the provider has adopted or upgraded would be sufficient.

To be honest, I’m torn between whether this is genius or filthy. According to the letter of the law, I don’t know of any reason that someone with the right Medicaid population can’t purchase an EHR like this for $2000 and then collect the EHR incentive money. The regulations don’t require them to do any more to collect the money. Although, that’s certainly not the intent of the EHR incentive money and definitely feels like their gaming the system if they do it with no intent to actually implement the EHR.

Another piece from the website:

While Henry Schein currently has no plans to pursue a Meaningful Use solution beyond Stage 1, Year 1 for Dentrix, we continue to monitor healthcare reform to determine what subsequent steps, if any, should be taken regarding Meaningful Use criteria and certification.

At least their up front with the Dentists that they’re not planning to go beyond meaningful use stage 1, but may change their minds. I’m sure this is music to ONC’s ears to hear that they’re only committing to meaningful use stage 1.

If your strategy is to just help these dentists get the first EHR incentive check, then why should you worry about MU stage 2. Wouldn’t you love to be a salesperson for this product? Here’s your pitch: Pay me $2000 for this EHR, go through 5 steps on the government website and you’ll get paid $21,250.00.

I wish I could see something legally wrong with this idea. Someone I talked to mentioned that even for the Medicaid EHR incentive money you have to check some box saying that you comply with the HIPAA requirements. Well, these clinics have to do that anyway. Many don’t, but they’ll check that box anyway thinking that they comply whether they do or not.

The biggest surprise for me might be that Henry Schein is willing to have their name associated with a program like this. I’ll be interested to see who else picks up on this glaring issue with the Medicaid EHR incentive and what ONC/CMS/HHS do to close it up (if they can).

Combating Mobile Health Threats: 13 Tips Everyone Should Read

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

There is a common theme I’ve noticed while I’ve been researching mHealth over the past few months: a great concern for safety and security. No one wants to download an app, or have their doctor use some kind of technology, if the information could somehow be leaked. A few months ago in Utah, there was a huge security breach where Medicaid and CHIP recipient’s information (birthdays, social security numbers, addresses…you know, all that information no one wants a hacker to have) was stolen. This kind of opened my eyes to how there needs to be security measures in place to make sure things like that don’t happen. While that didn’t have to do with security within mHealth, I feel like similar things could happen with patient information being transmitted within mobile devices.

So is there anything that can be done to protect this information? Well, I think for apps, it starts with the creator making sure there is a secure network. However, apps aren’t the only mobile health devices. There’s USB devices, laptops, and tablets as well. Michelle McNickle, New Media Producer for Healthcare IT News over at mhimss.com, posted 13 tips from ID experts on how to fight mobile device threats:

  1. Consider USB Locks
  2. Try geolocation tracking software or services
  3. Brick the device if it gets stolen or lost
  4. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt
  5. Forget about “sleep” mode
  6. Recognize that employees will use personal devices
  7. Use strong safeguards to permit access to PHI through mobile devices
  8. Educate employees on the importance of safeguarding their mobile devices
  9. Implement electronic protector health information (EPHI) security
  10. Work to get ahead of the BYOD upgrade curve
  11. Have a proactive data management strategy
  12. Keep in mind transparency and end-user consent opt-in.
  13. Remember that the mobile Web and “app” landscape is not your father’s Internet

While some of this tips didn’t really pertain to me, overall, I found the list to be very helpful. Awhile back, I downloaded an app on my phone that allows me to “brick the device”, as was mentioned in step three. While the only part of the app I’ve (thankfully) had to use was the feature that sets off a very loud alarm because I couldn’t find it (we’re talking ambulance siren loud), I’m glad I would be able to wipe data if I truly did lose it and didn’t want my personal information stolen. Whether you are a consumer, employer, or a creator of apps or technology, reading through this list is important. More detailed explanations of each of the points can be found here.

SCOTUS Decision and Healthcare IT

Posted on June 28, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those living in a hole that haven’t read about the SCOTUS supreme court decision that was issued today, here’s a good one paragraph summary of their decision from a post by The Atlantic:

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

There have been a lot of interesting reactions to the SCOTUS decision. Many of them revolve around the politics of the decision. We’ll obviously avoid the political side of the discussion for the most part. I did find HIMSS response to the ACA Supreme Court decision quite interesting. They are mostly grateful that some of the uncertainty is gone so we can move forward in healthcare. Plus, they remind people that health IT has had bipartisan support in Washington despite Obamacare’s obviously partisan issues.

Personally, I think that this decision (regardless of which way it went) will not have a major effect on the healthcare IT and EHR world. Most of the major happenings in healthcare IT and EHR aren’t related to Obamacare. There are a few places that impact it, but most are relatively innocuous.

My biggest concern with the SCOTUS decision is how it will impact healthcare reimbursement in general. Plus, the ACA uncertainty is still there since if the Republicans take control in Washington, then you can be sure that they’re going to repeal ACA as one of the first things they do. This uncertainty could affect the health IT decision making by many institutions.

I’d be interested to hear what other impacts people think the SCOTUS ruling will have on healthcare IT. I do agree with HIMSS that I’m glad we have a decision and can at least move forward with that knowledge.

New Technology Being Designed to Better Diagnose Mental Health Problems by Observing Emotions

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Sometimes, when a patient suffering from a mental illness talks with their doctor, they may say that everything is going well, even if it’s not. How does a doctor know if this information is correct or not? Without talking with a family member or close friend, it might be hard. According to mhimss.com, “the premise behind a new wave of startups and entrepreneurs looking to make an impact in healthcare” is mobile technology that will, essentially, be able to analyze emotions through a variety of factors, such as vocal, visual, and psychological cues. The hope is for this analysis of emotions will be administered a long side other vital signs.

The article at mhimss.com said that upwards of 85 percent of people who are “diagnosed with a chronic condition aren’t correctly diagnosed with depression.” And of those that are experiencing depression, less than 1/4 are getting the correct treatment for their condition. This technology that is being developed will hopefully help with this problem.

There have been several companies developing different things. One company, Cogito, is focusing on “vocal clues in phone conversations or visual signals in face-to-face meetings.” Another company, Affdex, are using webcams to read facial expressions. Other systems that will be available will involve mobile sensors that will sense physiological responses to different situations.

While these innovations will hopefully help better diagnose people and monitor their condition, it is important to remember that the technology is not a lie detector or mind reader, said Joshua Feast, CEO of Cogito:

What this technology can do is replicate the observations of an observer. You’re focusing on how people speak and interact, not what people say.

Love this idea. I could see how it could be extremely useful. I mean, if it’s mobile and can monitor someone for a long period of time, that would probably a lot more accurate in determining a person’s mental status than just visiting with them for a few minutes, as some doctors might. I couldn’t believe that so many people are mis-diagnosed and given the wrong treatments for mental illnesses. Having known many people with mental illnesses, I have observed  how people act when they have the correct treatment versus one that might not be quite right. It’s drastic. The companies that are developing these sensors and monitors could help increase the quality of life for patient’s dramatically if the technology actually works. With so many developments coming forth with medical technology, I agree with what Dr. Joseph Kvedar, the founder and director of the Center for Connected Health, said.

It’s the dawn of time for that particular technology. There’s so much sensitivity to the role that mental health plays in our healthcare.

The possibilities are endless. Feast said that he could see it being used to diagnose PTSD and mental disorders, to spotting stress in employers and preventing work-burnout before it begins. I’m very excited to see where this goes in the near future and makes me grateful that we live in a time where so many developments for the bettering of life are being made.

Telcoms Store SMS Text Message Details – Not HIPAA Compliant

Posted on June 27, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As an extension to my previous post called “Texting is Not HIPAA Secure” I wanted to point out some data that Wired posted about Telcom’s SMS message retention policies.

The information was found in a Department of Justice document and I believe is a good illustration for why PHI should not be sent through traditional SMS text messaging. Here’s the chart that wired created showing the major Telcom providers record retention policies:

The top 2 sections are the most important when it comes to secure text messaging. Last I checked, the telcom servers weren’t HIPAA secure. Not to mention, I can’t say I’ve seen a Telcom provider sign a business associate agreement with a healthcare provider. Neither of things are likely to ever happen.

The challenge is that text message is so valuable in healthcare. It’s such a simple and flexible way to communicate between doctors, nurses, staff, HIM, etc etc etc. This is why I predict over the next year we’re going to see a huge uptick in adoption of secure text messaging by third parties. The technology is there. We just need wider spread adoption of it in healthcare.

WebMD.com Goes Mobile With Well-Developed App

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

One of my favorite health-related websites is WebMD.com, so of course I had to download the app when it became available. While I was disappointed that the WebMD Baby app isn’t available for Android, there is a WebMD app for both Apple and Android platforms. Here is the description provided on Google Play Store:

WebMD for Android helps you with your decision-making and health improvement efforts by providing mobile access 24/7 to mobile-optimized health information and decision-support tools including WebMD’s Symptom Check, Drugs & Treatments, First Aid Information and Local Health Listings. WebMD the App also gives you access to first aid information without having to be connected wirelessly — critical if you don’t have Internet access in the time of need.

For the most part, I really like the app. It is easy to navigate and has a lot of different features. You can sign up for an account with WebMD if you don’t have one, or link an already existing account. Either way, it doesn’t take too long to get into the app.

There are five main sections to the app, which were mentioned in the description above. They can be accessed from the front page of the app, which looks like this:

When selecting the “Symptom Checker” for the first time, I was asked my age, zip code, and gender. I’m not sure if it would ask this if any of the other sections were accessed first. I’m guessing this information is asked just so results can be more customized to your demographic.

I really like the symptoms checker. A digital figure of a body (male or female, depending on what you selected originally) where you select the part of your body that is currently of concern. From there, a list of potential diagnoses come up. Unfortunately, this portion for the app rarely works for me. It says it cannot connect without an Internet connection, even though my phone is connected through the Internet and my data plan. Because of this, I can’t really vouch for the usefulness of this, but if I ever can get it to work, I think it would be kind of neat. As such, I typically select the “list” view, where a list of body parts comes up. It’s nice to be able to scroll through and see different illness and read more about them, including the symptoms. However, as I mentioned in my post about the Internet and hypochondriacs, I have spent far too much time browsing the symptoms. That’s not the apps fault though!

Under the conditions tab, there are a few options. First, My Conditions. Here, you can login to a WebMD account and save conditions you are currently diagnosed with, drugs being used, and first aid information. Then there is the top searches tab, which shows just that — the top searched conditions. And finally, there is an A-Z list of all conditions that have available information on WebMD.

Drugs and treatments has the options as My Conditions does, but there is an additional section called Pill ID. I think this is a pretty neat little feature. You can figure out what type of pill something is (like, maybe you have to take several different pills and you’ve put them into a pill box, only to forget later on which pill is which) by selecting the shape, color, or imprint. There are a lot of different shapes and colors to choose from, and the option is available to type in any letters or numbers on a pill.

The First Aid section gives detailed information on how to treat various things, from asthma attacks to heart attacks to jellyfish stings. These are, of course, only supposed to be used as guidelines, and if there is a true emergency, it says to call 911 immediately. This is a great reference guide though, even if its an emergency, because I believe that its important to try and do something while waiting for medical assistance to arrive. I like this feature a lot.

Finally there is the local health listings. Here, you can search for a physician, pharmacy, or hospital near you. You must have a name or speciality in mind when selecting either of these, but from there, it will bring up a list of names, hospitals, or pharmacies nearby with all the necessary information (phone number, address, map, etc.). Having traveled a good amount in the past few months, and in some cases needed to find a pharmacy in an unfamiliar area, this would have been really helpful to have!

Overall, its a great app. I’d even go as far as saying its a necessary one for everyone to have on their phone. I think it is unfortunate that, beyond the first aid section, an Internet connection is required, but beyond that, I don’t have any complaints!

Download here for Apple devices

Download here for Android

Nuance Interviews Me and Jonathon Dreyer at Health 2.0 Boston

Posted on June 26, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m currently enjoying the depths of my first experience at ANI 2012 in Las Vegas. It’s been a really great experience meeting a number of healthcare CFO’s and some new healthcare vendors. If any of my readers are at ANI, I’d love to meet. You know how to find me on Twitter (@ehrandhit).

While I’m busy at the conference I thought I’d post some videos that Nuance did with me at Health 2.0 Boston. It was kind of fun for them to turn the tables and put me on camera with Jonathon Dreyer, Sr. Manager, Mobile Solutions Marketing, at Nuance Healthcare. The videos were broken into 3 parts: health IT trends, mobile adoption in health IT, and social media in healthcare. I hope you enjoy!

Health IT Trends

Mobile Adoption in Health IT

Social Media in Healthcare

Another Migraine App Enters the Market

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

There’s a whole host of apps for migraines becoming available. After reviewing Migraine Meter, I was asked to review another migraine app. Over at EMRandHIPAA.com, John wrote about a start-up company called Ubiqi Health, which has both an online platform and app to help monitor and help with migraines. Since I wasn’t a big fan of Migraine Meter, I was excited to see how this one works. The website says:

We know that understanding and managing your migraines takes a lot of effort and can often feel like an uphill struggle. Ubiqi Health makes it easier for you with simple tools that can be used anywhere to track your progress and, ultimately, gain more control over your health.

For the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on the mobile app.

First off, the app is free. Awesome, awesome. It’s available for both Android and Apple users, which is great news for everyone.

For both Android and Apple devices, it currently has almost 5 stars.  Just looking at the information listed on there, and the screen shots, makes me feel like it is better than Migraine Meter already. The colors are nice, mainly just white and blue, and it looks like it was designed well. After looking around the website and the description, I decided to try it out myself.

Basically the app has four main things it asks you to track: When the migraine happened, how sever it was, what treatments were used, and any possible/noticeable triggers. The app was created by talking to people who suffer from migraines and finding out their needs. Smart move. Anyways…

First off, when the app is first opened, a registration screen pops up. It asks for basic information, such as email address, age, location, and gender. Pretty simple, and I was able to register pretty quickly.

After registering, you are brought to the home page. Here is a screen shot of it:

As you can see, there are six different sections. Let’s start with “Track Episode” (I think the picture that goes along with that tab is fairly accurate in depicting a migraine, yes?). You simply enter the date/time it started, ended, and intensity. You can also add treatments and triggers, if any of that information is available. For treatments, it has three preset ones (abortive medicine, darkness, and inactivity), but you can enter anything else you did, and for triggers, it has quite a few common ones as well. Entering date and time is really easy, as is entering the other information. For some reason, it bothers me that the triggers/treatments aren’t capitialized, it just seems kind of unpolished. But that’s just personal preference.

Next, there are the track triggers and track treatments. Basically, you enter in the same information you put in the track episode section, and because of that, it feels a bit repetitive. The only part is new, is entering the time of the treatments/triggers. I feel like if these are going to be separate sections, it shouldn’t be included in the track episode section. I think I would only put that information in one of the places, rather than both.

I have the same feelings about the note section as I did about the separate treatment and trigger sections. You can add notes in track episode.

Next, there is view feed. Basically, it just puts all of your activity here. Not much else to say about that.

Finally, when all is said and done, you can select get report, and have a report sent to your email about migraines. This report can be useful for doctor’s appointments, or just for finding patterns in general. I think this could be very useful.

Overall, I like the app. It’s super simple and easy to use. It doesn’t have any “extra” stuff like Migraine Meter (I just didn’t really care for the migraine news section that was the front page of the app), and it’s easy to navigate. It’s also really fast, and information can be input quickly. My only complaints are, as I’ve already mentioned, that the information was a bit repetitive. I get that the “track episode” section is supposed to have all the information in it about each episode, but I just don’t like that you have to enter triggers and treatments in different sections. I think it would be nice to just have to enter the date, time, and intensity here, and somehow have it get linked to the other sections.

This app can be downloaded for Android products here, and Apple products here.

Medicare EHR Attestation When Switching Practices Mid-Year – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on June 25, 2012 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

This week’s post will answer a Medicare question posed by a reader in response to Jessica’s post last week on Medicaid EHR Attestation with Multiple Practices. The reader asked about a physician who switches from one practice to another in the middle of year 2, but the answer below would also apply to a physician who works part-time at two (or more) practices.

“What about a Medicare EP who successfully attested for year one with her former employer and now works with us. Neither employer has enough information to report a full 12 months of info for her. Do we still attest for year two and fail it all or can we skip a year? And is it ok for the first employer to receive the first payment and we claim the rest? So complicated! Thanks for any input/help!!!”

Although the situation does make it more complex to attest, it does not mean that she cannot earn an EHR incentive this year. Incentives are tied to the physician—not the group—via the physician’s individual NPI number, regardless of whether the payment was made directly to the physician or assigned to the group. Therefore, even if the physician assigned payment to his former group last year, it is perfectly acceptable for her to assign payment to her new group this year. 

A physician who successfully attested and earned an EHR incentive in 2011 must report for the full calendar year in 2012 in order to earn the second payment. However, the information does not have to come from just one practice for the entire year. As long as the physician uses a certified EHR at both practices, she would simply have to report on all of the meaningful use requirements with data from both practices, combining the numerators and denominators for each measure when attesting. (For an explanation of how to report, see read CMS’s FAQ #3609.) She would also have to enter both EHRs into the CHPL website and generate a different Certification ID Number. 

If for some reason, the physician does not elect to pursue the 2012 incentive, there is no need to attest and fail this year. She can simply forego the second payment and start again with the third year’s incentive next January.

App Created to Connect Patients With Doctors Immediately

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Have you heard of Consult a Doctor? Well, if you haven’t, here’s a little bit of an overview:

MYHEALTHPLAN24/7 is Consult A Doctor’s revolutionary cloud-based telemedicine platform that offers health plans the freedom to dramatically improve access for their members, and offer a significant convenience and revenue benefit to their provider network, all while reducing cost of care by ensuring that members stay healthier with the right care, in the right setting as soon as possible.

Consult a Doctor offers cloud-based telemedicine services to its users. It teams up with hospitals, providers, employers, and consumers to provide affordable health care and advice to everyone. Patients connect with their doctors via the Internet and are able to get care faster, easier, and less expensive over all. On June 6th, Consult a Doctor announced their new app, iDr 24/7. Anyone who is currently subscribed to Consult a Doctor, either through their employer or health plan. iDr 24/7 is the first of its kind is available for the iPhone. Users will have the opportunity to be instantly connected with a doctor, no matter where they are. The press release from Consult a Doctor described the app:

The mobile app will enable members to connect with network physicians via phone and secure messaging for live, on-demand medical consultations, including medical diagnosis, treatment, and if appropriate, prescriptions to certain medications to treat non-emergent conditions.

Sometime this year, the app will be available to other groups as well, including providers and patients.

It’s pretty incredible how far seeking medical attention has come. I mean, someone used to have to ride horseback miles and miles just to find a doctor, and now a doctor can be reached almost instantaneously. While yes, in a true emergency, you should go to the emergency room, I think this is a great option for those just needing to talk to a doctor about some basic concerns, or who needs to get a prescription filled. Last week, David talked about a tricorder being developed called Scanadu, which also would give medical advice instantly. I wonder what type of technology will be developed next to make reaching a doctor even easier.

Consult a Doctor offers both individual and group plans. Pricing for the plans can be found here. Beyond access to iDr 24/7, membership benefits are:

  • Licensed physicians available 24/7/365.
  • 100% Approval — No one is ever turned down!
  • No Limitations on Usage
  • Great alternative for the uninsured or underinsured
  • Store and share your EMRs (Electronic Medical Records)
  • Immediate access to Consult a Doctor’s health related interactive tools/service
  • HIPAA-compliant

A free trial is available, and enrollment can be done here or by calling 1-800-362-2667.