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Computers & Medicine

Buying hardware | CME | Clinical information online | Electronic medical records | Handheld computers/PDAs | HIPAA | National policies | Online products and services | Online tools from ACP | Patient-doctor communication | Pharmacy/prescription management | Physician Web sites | Practice tools | Social media | Telemedicine/remote care | Y2K | Miscellaneous


Buying hardware

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Mobile devices offer advantages, challenges

Internists are piecing together technology to improve their practice management, but too many pieces are more of a puzzle than a picture. All the new devices ultimately need to lead to better care, the experts urge. More

Prevent disaster by backing up data

Natural disasters can wreak havoc on a practice's medical records. Five simple tips can help create a backup system that could avoid clinical data loss, and the resulting lawsuits and penalties. More

Start preparing now for ICD-10’s looming requirements

The new code set is much larger and will impact not only office staff but vendors. It’s now time to start preparing for the transition, which is closer than you think. More

Complete version 5010 before starting ICD-10

Offices must convert to a new electronic standard format, called version 5010, before they can implement ICD-10 in their offices. End-to-end testing must be complete by the end of the year. More

Understanding EHR certification

Certified electronic health record systems are crucial to qualifying for extra reimbursement and complying with upcoming government regulations. But there are two types, each assessing different aspects of how the system will function in an office. More

White House expert advises docs on meaningful use of EHRs

The White House’s national coordinator for health information technology offers advice on implementing and using electronic health records, and specifics on the incentive program that promises more reimbursement for adopters. More

Improving paper charts to prep for EHRs

Practices should organize their paper charts to ease to conversion to electronic health records. To ease the transitions, ACP has assembled useful forms to download and customize. More

Letters
Readers discuss in-office drug infusion, access fees and EMR software. (July-August 2004)

Buying a handheld? Consider these five key factors
Size is still an important consideration, but issues like screen quality can be just as critical. (November 2002)

The operating system debate: Pocket PC vs. Palm
Do you want a miniature version of your desktop computer—or something faster? (November 2002)

Tips for choosing and using the latest in handheld computers
The secret is knowing what you need and seeking features would help you most (June 1999)

Powering up: tips for buying a computer that will last
You may be tempted to buy a slower machine, but experts say that it will cost you in the long run (May 1999)

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CME

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The hype—and concerns—about CME on the Internet
This 'match made in heaven' is convenient, but some worry that commercial interests will bring bias (February 1998)

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Clinical information online

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Options to secure e-mails

Numerous options are available to make e-mail communications to patients more secure. More

Use caution when seeking medical information online

Researching medical knowledge online involves knowing three different types of resources, summary sites, society sites and primary literature. Knowing when to use each ensures the physician makes the correct diagnosis, and preserves the patient's confidence. More

Strategies to use the Web for clinical information
Tapping into the right sites can help you cut through the clutter and find needed information—quickly (February 2001)

Will NIH's new Web site change medical publishing?
Despite opposition from print publishers, PubMed Central may foster new ways to disseminate medical research (January 2000)

How to navigate the Net for clinical information
Lost in cyberspace? Try these tips to quickly find exactly what you are looking for on the Internet (October 1997)

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Electronic medical records

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‘Discontinued’ medications a problem when using EHRs

Physicians who wonder why a patient is still taking a discontinued medication might look to their EHRs for the answer. Unlike with new prescriptions, a doctor’s orders to stop a drug usually aren’t automatically transmitted to pharmacies. This widespread problem requires an old-fashioned solution: talking to patients to ensure they know what medications they are meant to be taking. More

Gain efficiency, not overload, through electronic communication

Use digital communications’ strengths to streamline its glut of information instead of being carried away. More

Mobile devices offer advantages, challenges

Internists are piecing together technology to improve their practice management, but too many pieces are more of a puzzle than a picture. All the new devices ultimately need to lead to better care, the experts urge. More

Open access requires an open mind by doctors

Patients have always been able to review their records, but making this a routine practice has most patients enthused and some physicians worried. Learn how some large health systems are applying open access to improve patient communication and compliance. More

Prevent disaster by backing up data

Natural disasters can wreak havoc on a practice's medical records. Five simple tips can help create a backup system that could avoid clinical data loss, and the resulting lawsuits and penalties. More

EHR training is mission critical

Don't skimp on the training when it comes to implementing an electronic health record system in a practice or facility. Basic functionality may require two weeks, and advanced functions may require another week to learn. More

Options to secure e-mails

Numerous options are available to make e-mail communications to patients more secure. More

Government expert encourages transition to electronic records

Internist Farzad Mostashari, MD, takes over as the nation's “EHR czar,” through the office of the national coordinator for health information technology. He answers questions on the progress of this transition. More

Electronic medical records have yet to fulfill their potential

An admittedly technophobic internist recounts her first day using an electronic health record. Her lesson learned: Internists must take control of their design and use to make the most of these new systems. More

Start preparing now for ICD-10’s looming requirements

The new code set is much larger and will impact not only office staff but vendors. It’s now time to start preparing for the transition, which is closer than you think. More

Complete version 5010 before starting ICD-10

Offices must convert to a new electronic standard format, called version 5010, before they can implement ICD-10 in their offices. End-to-end testing must be complete by the end of the year. More

Can the electronic medical record contain an entire genome?

Genetic records create data by the petabyte—that’s a number with 15 zeros trailing along. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. That’s a lot of data for primary care physicians to manage as genetic tests become more common. More

E-prescribing incentives change to penalties on June 30

Physicians who do not begin e-prescribing by June 30 will face 1% penalty on all Medicare Part B charges for 2012. Learn how to qualify, quickly. More

The e-prescribing paradox

Practices need to have an e-prescribing system up and running by the end of May. Learn how to qualify by using the G8553 code at least 10 times by then. More

Understanding EHR certification

Certified electronic health record systems are crucial to qualifying for extra reimbursement and complying with upcoming government regulations. But there are two types, each assessing different aspects of how the system will function in an office. More

White House expert advises docs on meaningful use of EHRs

The White House’s national coordinator for health information technology offers advice on implementing and using electronic health records, and specifics on the incentive program that promises more reimbursement for adopters. More

Rhode Island practice adopts patient-centered medical home

A multi-specialty private practice takes on the challenges and expenses of converting to a patient-centered medical home model. Time is the biggest challenge as the conversion to an electronic medical record consumes one physician’s attention. More

EHRs could solve resource overuse, free up physician time

Electronic health records can help physicians with the administrative burdens of practice, allowing them to focus on the clinical aspects of caring for patients. More

Using e-mail in practice is e-asy, but exercise care

E-mail can improve communication with patients—it’s even reimbursable—but it’s effective only if it’s used properly. One physician discusses the do’s and some very important don’ts. More

With EHRs or paper, outpatient practices can improve safety

The idea is evolving that improving transitions of care from hospital to outpatient settings reduces readmissions. From medication lists to tracking labs to missed referrals that delay diagnosis, an expert in the field considers it all. More

The confusing world of EHR incentives

The federal government’s substantial incentive program for electronic health records is no reason to rush out and buy one. Final rulings on how to interpret issues such as “meaningful use” won’t be decided upon until the summer. Diligence is needed to choose a system that matches the practice workflow. More

EHR era ushers in stricter privacy, security

Offices feeling confident about HIPAA compliance now face HITECH, an increased level of demands meant to secure confidential information in a digital age. The demands have increased, and so have the penalties. More

Improving paper charts to prep for EHRs

Practices should organize their paper charts to ease to conversion to electronic health records. To ease the transitions, ACP has assembled useful forms to download and customize. More

New tool makes it easy to add crucial family history to EHRs

Electronic medical records are slowly pushing out the family history, eliminating valuable diagnostic information. But a free tool offers an easy way to restore important details to a clinician's files. More

E-prescribing order hits unprepared internists
Congressional mandates to tip internists to use e-prescribing could backfire, say experts who have tried—and sometimes failed—to incorporate the technology into their offices.
September ’08

CPII Tips
Clearing up confusion about choosing EHRs
September ’08

Investing in EHRs pays off in paperless perks
Second in a six-part series on small practice issues
February '08

Computer screen can be barrier between doctor and patient
February '08

Readers express views on dialysis alternatives, electronic medial record systems. (December 2006)

Readers express views on pay-for-performance, Web-based health records and universal health care. (November 2006)

New federal rules may spur switch to electronic systems
Anxious to link inpatient and outpatient data, some hospitals seize chance to help fund EHR conversion. (November 2006)

'Slow and steady' the best approach to going paperless
Common mistakes include converting too fast and underestimating how much time and training offices need. (July-August 2006)

Wave of the future: personal health records on the Web?
Comprehensive electronic patient records accessible by patients and physicians could soon become a reality. (July-August 2006)

One physician puts EHR savings to work by hiring premed students
Mindi S. Garner, ACP Member, is reaping not only the financial benefits of her electronic system, but mentoring opportunities as well. (July-August 2006)

Group purchasing puts EHRs in small offices
Physicians find strength in numbers when negotiating with technology vendors. (March 2006)

The files are electronic, but the staff is only human
Be prepared for some tense moments as you transition from paper to computer. (January-February 2006)

Small practices slow to adopt EHRs
A recent survey found that almost 18% of responding physicians reported using an electronic health record between 2001 and 2003. (January-February 2006)

Vista EHR: right product, right price?
The CMS' offer sounds exciting—but important service questions remain. (September 2005)

A small practice juggles EHR's costs and big payoffs
High-tech tools give physicians more time with their patients—and better reimbursements from their insurers. (September 2005)

How EMR software can help prevent medical mistakes
Deadly drug interactions are just one type of error that electronic information systems can flag in your practice. (September 2004)

The case for computerizing health care now, not later
Both the private sector and government have to move forward with bringing computerization to medicine. (April 2004)

Tips for evaluating electronic medical record software
Many groups flub the software selection process by not taking the time to figure out what they really need. (April 2004)

Implementing an EMR? Five mistakes you should avoid
Too often, implementing an EMR derails because of bad planning and worse management. (December 2003)

Interested in EMR software? Look before you leap. (October 2003)

Hospitals and health plans roll out PDA programs
Early efforts let physicians retrieve—and in some cases, change—patient records via palmtop computers. (November 2002)

For doctors, the pressure is on to computerize
Regulations protecting patient information are giving new urgency to an old debate. (January 2002)

EMR software for internists: tips from an expert
You don't need to digitize all your patient information to take advantage of electronic medical records (March 2001)

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Handheld computers/PDAs

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Mobile devices offer advantages, challenges

Internists are piecing together technology to improve their practice management, but too many pieces are more of a puzzle than a picture. All the new devices ultimately need to lead to better care, the experts urge. More

PIER debuts for PDAs. (July-August 2004)

Buying a handheld? Consider these five key factors
Size is still an important consideration, but issues like screen quality can be just as critical. (November 2002)

The operating system debate: Pocket PC vs. Palm
Do you want a miniature version of your desktop computer—or something faster? (November 2002)

What does the future hold for handheld computing?
A look at some upcoming trends in mobile computing—and how they may affect you. (November 2002)

How safe is the patient information on your PDA?
While it's easy to misplace a handheld computer, you can take some simple steps to protect yourself. (November 2002)

Software to help your billing—and your bottom line
Charge capture programs can speed up reimbursement and improve accuracy, but are they for you? (November 2002)

Buyer's guide: medical applications for palmtop computers
A comprehensive list of PDA software for physicians. (November 2002)

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HIPAA

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Mobile devices offer advantages, challenges

Internists are piecing together technology to improve their practice management, but too many pieces are more of a puzzle than a picture. All the new devices ultimately need to lead to better care, the experts urge. More

Options to secure e-mails

Numerous options are available to make e-mail communications to patients more secure. More

Can the electronic medical record contain an entire genome?

Genetic records create data by the petabyte—that’s a number with 15 zeros trailing along. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. That’s a lot of data for primary care physicians to manage as genetic tests become more common. More

Another security risk: The copy machine

Many office photocopiers permanently store every image they’ve ever scanned, copied or faxed. Those images stay with the machine after it’s re-sold, and the images can be easily hacked. Learn how to maintain security over medical records, taxes, bank statements—or any other document that’s ever been copied. More

Getting a handle on HIPAA and HITECH

Just as practice staff adjusted to HIPAA regulations, along comes a new set of rules addressing privacy and security. More rules, more enforcement—and more penalties. Learn how to avoid mistakes. More

Next item on the HIPAA agenda: protecting security
Complying with this latest rule can safeguard your practice from power outages to disgruntled ex-employees. (March 2005)

With HIPAA rules, the actions of others can make or break physicians' efforts
Physicians scrambing to comply with new HIPAA transaction rules are being hamstrung by vendors and health plans. (January-February 2004)

Your next step in HIPAA compliance: the security rule
Designed to protect patient electronic health care information, the HIPAA security rule gives practices much-needed flexibility. (January-February 2004)

HIPAA grace period gives physicians a welcome break. (October 2003)

From minor annoyances to treatment delays, physicians feeling fallout of HIPAA privacy law
Physicians, patients and hospitals experience missteps in the brave new world of HIPAA compliance. (September 2003)

Another source of HIPAA confusion: attorneys
Why requests for patient records from attorneys are giving some physicians pause. (Web Only)

Last-second strategies for the HIPAA transactions rule
With the Oct. 16 deadline looming, you need to make sure your cash flow is protected if claims are rejected. (September 2003)

HIPAA requires more than a new format for claims
If you don't start collecting and reporting certain information by Oct. 16, payers might reject your claims. (July-August 2003)

New HIPAA rule will protect information security
While physicians have two years to comply, time is running out to implement two earlier rules (April 2003)

Time is running out to meet two key HIPAA deadlines
Privacy regulations and transactions standards take effect in April. You need to act now to get ready (March 2003)

New tools to help you prepare your practice for HIPAA
To file claims electronically, you need to make sure your office software complies with the law (January 2003)

Tips to comply with HIPAA's new privacy regulations
While the rules are still in flux, you need to comply by April 2003. Here are some strategies to get started. (May 2002)

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National policies

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Practice Rx

DEA to ease burden, allow e-prescribing controlled substances

The Drug Enforcement Administration released an interim final rule outlining how doctors can begin to fulfill narcotic prescriptions electronically. ACP’s practice management staff outline how physicians can begin the process. More

Regents pave way for broader focus on information technology
The Board moved to expand the College's focus on health information technology and to increase input from young member physicians. (March 2005)

The case for computerizing health care now, not later
Both the private sector and government have to move forward with bringing computerization to medicine. (April 2004)

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Online products and services

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Strategies to keep your computer safe from hackers
A primer on viruses and other weapons that cyber thieves and snoops can use to control your computer. (March 2005)

Transcription costly and slow? Try online dictation
New Web-based services give physicians quick turnaround time-and easy access to patient notes. (December 2002)

How to make the most of your transcription dollars
Changing your dictation style can help you lower your transcription expenses. (Web Only)

A look at the real costs of using Web-based software
The pros and cons of application service providers (October 2000)

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Online tools from ACP

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Using e-mail in practice is e-asy, but exercise care

E-mail can improve communication with patients—it’s even reimbursable—but it’s effective only if it’s used properly. One physician discusses the do’s and some very important don’ts. More

EHR era ushers in stricter privacy, security

Offices feeling confident about HIPAA compliance now face HITECH, an increased level of demands meant to secure confidential information in a digital age. The demands have increased, and so have the penalties. More

Reliable medical answers are only a click away

Going online during a patient encounter delivers answers immediately, letting physicians provide better care and improve their knowledge base. A new generation of tools makes evidence-based information quickly available to busy clinicians. More

In one remote area, PIER helps physicians stay current
For two internists with limited subspecialty access, the ACP Web-based tool provides key clinical information. (December 2005)

New College service helps members select office software
ACP members can now get free summary evaluations of office software products. (September 2004)

Medlineplus project: premium information for patients
A new e-health project co-sponsored by the ACP Foundation connects patients with top-quality health care information. (December 2003)

PIER adds 11 new modules to clinical decision-support tool (March 2003)

Need a quick consult? Try this new College product
A new Web product called PIER will provide evidence-based recommendations to help guide internists through perplexing clinical problems. (March 2002)

Give your office lab a free physical with software from the College (February 2000)

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Patient-doctor communication

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Mobile devices offer advantages, challenges

Internists are piecing together technology to improve their practice management, but too many pieces are more of a puzzle than a picture. All the new devices ultimately need to lead to better care, the experts urge. More

Options to secure e-mails

Numerous options are available to make e-mail communications to patients more secure. More

Use caution when seeking medical information online

Researching medical knowledge online involves knowing three different types of resources, summary sites, society sites and primary literature. Knowing when to use each ensures the physician makes the correct diagnosis, and preserves the patient's confidence. More

Using e-mail in practice is e-asy, but exercise care

E-mail can improve communication with patients—it’s even reimbursable—but it’s effective only if it’s used properly. One physician discusses the do’s and some very important don’ts. More

Remote monitoring: Out of sight, right in line

Remote monitoring programs help physicians and nurses ensure continuity of care for elderly patients with chronic conditions. The goal is to catch problems early and improve self-management. Another goal: provide physician reimbursement. More

Web portals attract small groups, 'fanatical' patient interest
A physician relates how online communication with patients has streamlined his health care delivery and even provided a trickle of revenue. More

Patients ban together to research conditions, themselves
The next wave of online patient web sites allow patients to compare treatments and results, pulling together data that looks and acts like a research study despite its source. More (October 2008)

Practice management experts urge doctors to use the Web
February '08

E-mail in demand but cost, security worry physicians (November/December 2007)

Physicians and e-mail slow to make connection
While some embrace the online visit, others view it as more uncompensated work. (January-February 2007)

How two practices are taking patient visits online—and getting paid for them
Two groups are on the cutting edge of a growing trend toward more use of e-mail as a substitute for office visits. (December 2004)

How one group gives new meaning to 'virtual' access
Replacing many follow-up visits with e-mail and phone calls has made physicians—and patients—much happier (April 2003)

Is there a doctor online?
Health plans and others are trying to break down the barriers that keep physicians from communicating with patients online (Web only)

When it comes to e-mail and patients, where should doctors draw the line?
With specific patient questions about their own health, confidentiality issues can arise (June 2000)

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Pharmacy/prescription management

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E-prescribing incentives change to penalties on June 30

Physicians who do not begin e-prescribing by June 30 will face 1% penalty on all Medicare Part B charges for 2012. Learn how to qualify, quickly. More

The e-prescribing paradox

Practices need to have an e-prescribing system up and running by the end of May. Learn how to qualify by using the G8553 code at least 10 times by then. More

Incentives may speed transition to e-prescribing
Insurers and states see huge savings but doctors worry about cost, disruption. (October 2006)

E-prescribing: nascent industry or uncertain future?
While handhelds make e-prescribing relatively easy, obstacles are limiting the technology's use. (November 2002)

Palmtops today do more than check your prescriptions
Drug reference software is still hot, but a boom in new titles for handhelds is changing physician routines. (April 2002)

Want to avoid drug errors? New software can help
Vendors are introducing low-cost programs for handheld computers that prevent common errors (April 2001)

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Physician Web sites

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Use caution when seeking medical information online

Researching medical knowledge online involves knowing three different types of resources, summary sites, society sites and primary literature. Knowing when to use each ensures the physician makes the correct diagnosis, and preserves the patient's confidence. More

Hang out a digital shingle

Establish your practice in the digital world as well, using a website and social media to bolster your presence. More

Reliable medical answers are only a click away

Going online during a patient encounter delivers answers immediately, letting physicians provide better care and improve their knowledge base. A new generation of tools makes evidence-based information quickly available to busy clinicians. More

Podcast engages medical bloggers in a virtual talk show
An internist/blogger creates a talk-show format for his podcasts to link internists with one another. More

Web Watch
Doctors who are also mothers compare notes on raising kids and saving lives at the Mothers in Medicine Web site. More

Hospitalist doesn’t hold back on blog about rural medicine
September ’08

The Health Care Innovations Exchange Web site informs users how their peers have tackled common problems such as appointment scheduling or monitoring glucose levels of hospitalized patients. More

Today’s medical news, brought to you by the king of blogs
June ’08

Retooled CMS ratings may inspire hospitals’ improvement
May '08

Dear blog, my patients drive me nuts. Signed, anonymous
April ’08

Web Watch
Site shifts unused medical supplies from the haves to the have-nots
What do an X-ray machine in Oregon and a shower chair in Bellmore, N.Y. have in common? Both are available for free on a Web site that matches U.S. donors of medical equipment to needy recipients
March ’08

Web Watch
Virtual lounge connects far-flung physicians seeking advice
February '08

Steering clear of pitfalls in physician Web sites
Solutions to problems with kickbacks, liability and privacy (September 2000)

Medicine eyes market for online health information
Despite tough competition, doctors think they can win over patients with top-notch clinical Web sites (March 2000)

Does it pay for you to have a page on the Web?
Online physician directories are hot, but some wonder if the public is really using them (January 1997)

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Practice tools

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E-prescribing incentives change to penalties on June 30

Physicians who do not begin e-prescribing by June 30 will face 1% penalty on all Medicare Part B charges for 2012. Learn how to qualify, quickly. More

The e-prescribing paradox

Practices need to have an e-prescribing system up and running by the end of May. Learn how to qualify by using the G8553 code at least 10 times by then. More

Reliable medical answers are only a click away

Going online during a patient encounter delivers answers immediately, letting physicians provide better care and improve their knowledge base. A new generation of tools makes evidence-based information quickly available to busy clinicians. More

Handheld ultrasound puts diagnostics within reach. (May 2007)

Is the time right for speech recognition software?
Despite recent breakthroughs, experts warn the technology still requires a lot of physician time (September 1998)

Tips for making the most of electronic curbside consults
A number of physicians are going to Internet-based discussion groups for advice from their colleagues (January 1998)

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Social media

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Use caution when seeking medical information online

Researching medical knowledge online involves knowing three different types of resources, summary sites, society sites and primary literature. Knowing when to use each ensures the physician makes the correct diagnosis, and preserves the patient's confidence. More

Hang out a digital shingle

Establish your practice in the digital world as well, using a website and social media to bolster your presence. More

Physicians and social media: Debating where to draw the line

Blogging doctors have a powerful megaphone and a new way to interact with their patients. But mishandling this tool, or misusing Twitter or Facebook, can blur the patient-physician divide or place the relationship at risk. Some of the internet’s most famous physicians log in to discuss the pros and cons of social media. More

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Telemedicine/remote care

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Project ECHO expands the reach of primary care

To improve local care of hepatitis, Project ECHO uses videoconferencing and case-based learning to connect front-line primary care physicians with skilled and knowledgeable specialists. More

Telemedicine connects remote areas with care
Modern medicine is dramatically cutting the distance that patients must travel, even for severe injuries. Consulting by telemedicine reduces delays, improves patient outcomes and brings health care to areas that otherwise wouldn’t have it.
April ’08

High-tech solutions can improve patient monitoring
A new breed of small, inexpensive devices gives physicians new ways to stay in touch with patients (July-August 2001)

Telemedicine in the NICU
New technologies give parents the confidence to assume care of their babies earlier (June 2000)

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Y2K

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Miscellaneous

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Why medicine must lead the way to electronic records
Policies creating a new information infrastructure are too important to leave to the government. (April 2004)

Electronic books you can read on the train—or the couch
New devices known as e-books that promise to combine the huge amounts of data offered by paperless text with the ease of reading offered by print books (March 1999)

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