Malpractice insurer offers physicians a discount

by Portland Business Journal
http://www.bizjournals.com

Northwest Physicians Insurance Co., one of Oregon’s largest medical liability carriers, is offering discounts to doctors that use computerized personal health records and e-mail to communicate with patients.

Depending upon medical specialty, the discounts range from $375 to $2,250 annually. That’s potentially greater than the cost of the secure e-mail or personal health record system, which cost approximately $1 per doctor per day.

A personal health record is an electronic, universally available, lifelong resource of health information needed by individuals to make health decisions and track health histories. It does not replace the legal record of any provider.

The move by Northwest Physicians follows a recent trend of liability carriers promoting online patient-doctor connectivity, with hopes of fostering better communication with patients and improved patient safety.

Northwest Physicians Insurance Company is a homegrown Oregon company acquired in February 2006 by The Doctors Company of California in a $14 million deal.

Under the new program, 2,600 physicians insured by the company will receive patient safety discount points for connecting online with their patients using an online service called iHealth, which includes a practice Web site for physicians and secure e-mail and patient personal health records for patients. The service also includes safety messages for patients, including same-day patient notification if their medicines are subject to FDA recall or warnings.

“We are seeing increased market demand for these types of online services and we want to help our insured physicians adopt and use these tools to better and more efficiently connect with patients,” said Dieter Zimmer, vice president for patient safety and practice support for Northwest Physicians.

The program is available immediately to physicians in Oregon and Idaho.
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