Online patient-physician communication branches out

As a growing number of health insurers are covering virtual doctor visits, a small number of patients and primary care physicians are discovering the convenience of secure online communication to deal with non-urgent health issues. This may not come as a big surprise to those us in healthcare, but it's suddenly a big deal when news outlets like The Wall Street Journal start paying attention, as is the case today. Plus, it definitely is surprising to read a statistic like this: Nearly 40 percent of physicians say they have communicated with patients online, according to Manhattan Research.

The story talks about how some doctors turn to the Internet for managing chronic diseases, while others treat common, non-life-threatening ailments like cold and flu, back pain and urinary infections. Then there's the case of Jane Rust, a 61-year-old Tennessee homemaker, who got a diagnosis of conjunctivitis--pinkeye--and a prescription to treat it without ever having to see her regular family physician.

To learn more about various approaches to online patient-physician communication:
- read the Journal story