Doctors across the United States and around the world are making use of the latest technology and the convenience of the internet in a variety of ways. Whether it’s better patient care or making their presence known in their communities, medical professionals have come to depend on web sites, web hosting, and databases. It is no longer a luxury, but fast becoming par for the course.
Better Patient Care
The internet is often used for transfer of all types of medical data. Particularly with respect to radiology, the technology now exists to transmit CAT or PET scan images over the web for analysis by physicians in remote locations, or to transfer patient information quickly whether it’s across the country or around the world.
Unfortunately, this technology is seeing limited use and usually only in affiliation with larger, teaching medical centers. Transfer of individual patient information is constrained by the HIPPA regulations to the point that signatures are required for exchange of that type of data and tend to be transmitted in paper form or by fax. While some medical facilities maintain advanced databases for patient records, the information contained in them remains closely held.
Maintaining a database of patient records will make filing simpler for employees, free up office space that was once dedicated filing cabinets, allow for fewer mistakes on charts and quicker and more accurate retrieval and transfer by any medium.
Community Medical Listings
The most likely place to find a physician’s name, specialty and location on the web is through the regional online service listings. There are probably half a dozen ‘yellow page’ ecommerce type services in most major metropolitan areas that have medical listings.
Additionally, there are the ‘city search’ type web hosted services that provide local information on entertainment, restaurants and local attractions – and will also provide legal and medical listings. There are dedicated listing services such as yourmd.com that are more comprehensive, providing specialty information and an area for the physician to provide comments on treatment focus and philosophy, but provide only a basic phone number and address listing. A small monthly fee is charged.
Personal Medical Websites
If a physician chooses to utilize online listing services, it would be of substantial value if those listings included a clickable web address for the individual doctor or practice. Any medical practice or professional listed online should consider establishing its own hosted web site, so that the browsing consumer can click to a dedicated page introducing the doctor(s) and the practice specialties. Post professional information: where you were educated, hospitals you have worked at, and information about your specialty. Allow potential new patients to contact through your website with an online form or contact link for email. Post a picture, your address, phone number, and hours. List all your services and what insurances you accept. Give as much information as possible.
Educate Your Current Patients And Attract New Ones
There are a couple of specialties that have recognized the value of using online presentation of information. One is sports medicine: many clinics for sports-related injuries have web sites that discuss rehabilitation philosophy as well as surgical options and the clinical backgrounds of the staff.
Another is pediatrics: a field where many group practices have established websites in order to create an introductory environment designed to put the browsing parent at ease. Brief biographies of the doctors in the practice may be found there, along with any specialties that apply.
Physicians that have established their own hosted web sites will often use them to provide basic information on common afflictions and links to more comprehensive sites about the diseases. Provision of this sort of information is often done with literature and usually with the physician walking the patient through it. For that sort of patient care, a hosted website can be a timesaver for the doctor. “Look it up on my website and call if you have questions” can be a timely and convenient closer for an office visit.
Thorough Patient Care
A doctor’s personal website can provide alternative contacts and telephone numbers for weekend or off-hour care. It can route calls to information nurses or other personnel on staff; providing a service that otherwise is simply another phone message for the doctor to return. It can also provide an email link for inquiries about appointment times – a worthwhile service for an office with phone lines that are often busy. In the medical field, a hosted website dedicated to a single doctor or practice is more an introduction and information source than an advertising vehicle. If designed and utilized properly, a personal medical website can be an efficient and useful tool in the practice of medicine.