There are many services as such already around, such as Relay-Health from McKesson who provide this type of service, but for the patients, it is free.  There are templated screens for medical staff and MDs to use as well, as we all realize it takes time to compose original emails for each answer.  The answers can be anything from an appointment to medical information, so there’s a wide range. 

This is the first one I have seen where they want the patient to pay.  As mentioned in the article, hopefully soon Medicare will begin to consider reimbursing a physician for an e-visit, and again that is where the templated formats come in handy to ensure all the elements for an e-visit would be covered.  Something like an appointment change, etc. would be considered as regular business and do not fall under that category.  Portal solutions offered to practices also have a few other screens with related and helpful information included like e-prescribing, and all correspondence is sent and received via SSL secured connections. 

Even today, I am surprised to see physicians still using an unsecured mail system with free web mail like Yahoo to communicate with patients, which is not secure as most of the free web mail does not encrypt, thus it is also not HIPAA compliant for health related correspondence.  BD

SANTA CRUZ -- Would you be willing to pay $60 a year for the privilege of having an online conversation with your doctor?

That's what the Santa Cruz Medical Foundation is about to find out.

You know how it is when you try to reach a doctor. You call the office, wait in line for the receptionist, explain what you want. Then you wait.

Here's how the doctor sees it: An e-mail arrives from the receptionist. The doctor reads the message in between seeing other patients, sends a message to the medical assistant, who calls the patient. It could be 15 minutes or more.

Santa Cruz doctors offer patients e-mail privileges for a fee - San Jose Mercury News


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