Sex, Disease, Health and the Internet
Regular HealthBlog readers know I'm passionate about using information technology and the Internet to improve health around the world. There's never been a better tool to help us deliver health information and medical services, and yet we've barely scratched the surface on all the ways it can, and will be used. Thankfully a new generation of healthcare providers, not satisfied with the status quo of healthcare delivery, are changing the game and in some cases breaking the rules to make healthcare more accessible and affordable.
A case in point is Dr. Thom Van Every. Dr. Thom, as he likes to be called, saw a piece I did on another innovative, net-savvy doc; Jay Parkinson, MD, in Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Thom wanted me to know about the services he offers across the pond (he's based in London) and around the world on DrThom.com. He sent me the following e-mail:
"DrThom is the first and so far only online medical service in the UK that is registered and approved by the UK healthcare regulator explicitly to manage patients online, including the provision of medication to patients via the internet. Our ability to manage patients remotely in a safe and regulatory-compliant way centres on our bespoke and secure online patient management system and our detailed understanding of the regulatory environment.
We specialise in sexual health (mainly STI testing and treatment) partly because that is my medical specialism and partly because sexual health lends itself very well to online care by reducing the embarrassment that many patients experience in a face-to-face consultation.
DrThom also runs London’s largest private walk-in sexual health clinic, which we opened last year. We are in the process of integrating our walk-in software with our online version so that patients can be seen face-to-face but managed subsequently online.
We are enthusiastic about what we can achieve in remote medical care not just in sexual health, including HIV management, but also in other clinical areas. We have already launched a joint online impotence service with London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, one of the UK's leading government-funded hospitals, to demonstrate what can be done versus the ‘cowboys’ that fill our inboxes with spam."
I salute Dr. Thom and all the other physicians around the world who are willing to break the mold on healthcare delivery as we've known it. Certainly there will always be a place for "bricks and mortar" medicine, but practices that leverage the power of the Net and combine its reach and transactional capabilities with all traditional forms of delivery are doing themselves and their patients a great favor. These doctors are pioneers blazing a trail that others will soon follow leading us to more accessible, more convenient, and potentially lower-cost healthcare services everywhere.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation