American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Clinical computing news

From the September 1996 ACP Observer, copyright 1996 by the American College of Physicians.

For after-hours echoes, computers improve response time

When it comes to reading after-hours emergency echocardiograms, laptop computers are not only faster but just as accurate as traditional technology, according to a new study.

Because echocardiograms performed during weekends and evenings usually are not interpreted quickly, researchers at Methodist Hospital of Indiana transmitted nearly 200 after-hours echocardiograms directly to the homes of on-call cardiologists equipped with laptop computers. The on-call physicians received the images quickly because of the laptops, and researchers concluded that the computerized images offered the same quality as those displayed on videotape workstations at the hospital. In addition, diagnoses made from images on the laptop computers consistently matched diagnoses made later using conventional videotape workstations at the hospital.

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Physicians catching up on computer use

In the field of electronic publishing, physicians may finally be catching up to their colleagues in law and accounting.

According to a survey by Management Practice, a publishing industry consulting firm, about 7% of physicians turn to electronic media when they conduct research, compared to 32% of lawyers and 52% of accountants. Subspecialists who use computers in diagnosis and treatment-immunologists and pathologists, for example- use electronic media for research more than other physicians, while internists and family physicians are far less likely to use computers.

The survey also found that 74% of physicians own a computer, up from 42% in 1993. In the general population, an estimated 65% of Americans with household incomes of more than $60,000 own a computer.

Physician advertising-on the Web

Looking for a way to reach out to new patients? The creators of "Doctorline" think they've found the answer.

The new Web site promises to help Net-savvy patients select a physician, chiropractor or dentist. The national service, launched last December, provides patients with basic information on physicians and lets them send e-mail directly to the provider. It also offers information on hospitals and HMOs.

Physicians pay for the service. For $99, they can purchase a listing that provides basic information such as specialty, phone number, office hours and insurance plans accepted. For $178, physicians can add information about their practice philosophy, credentials and affiliations.

Information: 800-542-1732 or http://doctorline.com.

Voice systems

Speech Writer for Mental Health allows physicians to dictate patient notes directly into the computer. Versions of the product for other types of physicians are being developed. Information: Voice Input Technologies, 888-978-6423.

CD-ROMs

CardioViewer 3D allows users to study detailed cardiac anatomy and cardiac structures using images from a human cadaver, diagnostic imaging techniques such as echocardiography and video footage of open heart surgery. Featuring images from the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project, users can electronically dissect the heart and reassemble it. CardioViewer costs $19.95. Other titles include The Dissectable Human and The Dynamic Human, which cost $49.95 each. Information: 515-296-9908.

Microscopic Anatomy is a cellular anatomy tutorial that contains 1,200 histologic slides and electron micrographs, detailed explanations and interactive questions. It is the third title in the Anatomy Suite series; the first two titles are Human Anatomy and Radiologic Anatomy. Cost: $99. Information: Gold Standard Multimedia Inc., 352-373-1100.

Telecommunications

NetworkMCI WebMaker can help hospitals, physician groups and other types of health care organizations create and administer their own World Wide Web site. The product, a joint offering from the telephone giant MCI and computer chip manufacturer Intel, provides the hardware, software and support organizations need to launch a Web site for under $10,000. Information: 800-503-7771.

Patient education

MedCoach allows physicians and pharmacists to create customized educational brochures about prescription drugs based on patient age, gender and health condition. The software includes information on labeled and unlabeled uses for more than 7,500 brand-name and generic prescription drugs, vitamins and minerals. Price: $395 plus $12 shipping. Information: 800-877-6733.

Parlay International has a free catalog of print and electronic materials to create patient handouts and brochures. Prices for electronic products start at $199. Information: 800-457-2752

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