Mendham surgeon unveils Facebook feature for patients and doctors
Observer Tribune Posted: Monday, August 20, 2012 10:11 am
By PHIL GARBER, Managing Editor | 1 comment
MENDHAM – In an age of Facebook where the most personal and detailed information can instantly be shared worldwide, it would seem that patients would be able to quickly communicate with their doctors in times of emergency and that doctors in emergency rooms and elsewhere could easily access medical histories.
That, however, often is not the case and despite the increasing national emphasis placed on health care and accountability, doctors must get patient permission to view medical records while it can take precious time to find the records to develop a treatment plan.
It is then even more cumbersome for multiple doctors to share information about mutual patients while not violating the federal privacy laws, according to one Mendham surgeon.
Dr. Michael Nusbaum said he has developed at least a major part of the solution, a new medical communications platform that lets patients store and manage all of their health information, as well as instantly share important data and condition updates with doctors.
The platform, MedXCom Patient, is available as a free app for iPhones. It was developed by Giffen Solutions, Inc., an electronic health communications company formed by Nusbaum, the chief of bariatric surgery at Morristown Memorial Hospital along with his wife, Annette, a neuroradiologist at NYU Medical Center and a colleague, Dr. Michael Rofhkopf, a metabolic specialist at Morristown Memorial.
In addition to streamlining health care, Nusbaum said the new app will result in fewer errors because doctors won’t have to rely on possibly incorrect information from a patient because all medical reports, including surgical history, allergies, medications and lab reports will be easily retrieved.
The app also is designed to help patients track their own health improvement or problems by monitoring height and weight, blood pressure and blood sugar and other signposts. It also can help in checking the growth or concerns with children by mapping average growth percentiles.
“You can alert all of your doctors instantly to a medical status, such as being in the emergency room, while giving you complete privacy and full control over your personal health care information,” said Nusbaum. “You decide what to store, what to share and who gets to see it. We’re putting the patients in charge. If you’re paying for your health care why shouldn’t you own your health care records?”
Nusbaum said it is the only health care app on the market that is approved under federal privacy laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 also known as HIPAA.
Using MedXCom Patient, once a patient gives permission for doctors to view records, other health care professionals also can share the patient’s health care history.
“This changes the way doctors communicate with patients for the better,” Nusbaum said.
All doctors and other health care providers in MedXCom Patient system are immediately notified when patients are admitted to emergency rooms so they can quickly share medical information with the hospitals and with other physicians. The system is encrypted to conform to HIPAA’s rules which prohibit doctors from texting or emailing confidential patient information.
Having medical information quickly available also should lessen the possibility for errors. For instance, Nusbaum said he may get a call from his service about a new patient and may not have background medical information. With the MedXcom Patient app, the doctor can have the person’s medical files immediately posted on his Iphone.
With more reporting and prescribing done on line, the system will cut back on face to face time between doctors and patients. But Nusbaum said it shouldn’t have much effect on relationships with doctors who already spend very little time and are often rushed to take the next patient. He said studies have shown the average internist spends six to nine minutes with each patient.
Yet another function is that the app records all conversations between the patient and doctors. This should cut back on problems that arise when patients misunderstand a treatment or prognosis. It also should help curtail lawsuits that may be based on inaccurate information while it may also press doctors to be more careful about their care, Nusbaum said.
“We’ve met with malpractice carriers and they love it,” Nusbaum said. “There will be a lot more dismissals or settlements because all communications are documented.”
As far as doctors who may balk at having their conversations taped, Nusbaum had some advice for patients.
“If a doctor is afraid of having his conversations records maybe the patient should go to another doctor,” Nusbaum said. “We’re all being held more accountable. We have doctors in our system who said it’s bumped of the level of their game and they’re treating patients better.”
One feature of MedXCom Patient allows doctors to access vital medical information. But the system also enable doctors to quickly notify patients of results of medical tests. Now, it can take days or even weeks for lab results to be forwarded to patients, Nusbaum said.
Patients also can use the app to schedule appointments and receive appointment reminders from their doctors. Various insurance forms also can be completed on- line in advance of appointments, further saving time. An electronic prescription plan on the app also allows patients to request new medications or refills.
“It speeds up the job of being a physician and it speeds up care,” Nusbaum said.
Nusbaum said only doctors who are members of MedXCom will be tied in to patient records. He said a goal is to eventually link patients with all medical records and physicians.
The MedXCom Patient app is available in 27 states and currently serves more than 300,000 patients. The app for patients was made available on July 9 and can be downloaded from the ITunes site.