Internet helps doctor get back to basics

A week ago I posted about doing an iChat consultation with my new doc. Tonight I found this story about a doctor in Washington who has taken his entire practice online:

Dr. Howard Stark’s office is quiet. Very quiet. No patients sit in his waiting room. No receptionist answers the telephone. Stark does not have a receptionist. Instead, he and his assistant Michele Norris-Bell check e-mail alerts on handheld devices and — between seeing patients in person — on a desktop computer.

Stark has moved most of his practice, based in Washington, onto the Internet and he couldn’t be happier. Since he started his Web-based service two years ago, he has received 14,000 e-mails. And yet, he feels more like an old-fashioned family doctor in a small town than a modern, harried physician.

‘ "That’s 14,000 phone calls that we did not have to answer and that patients did not have to make," ‘ Stark said.

He does not charge for answering an e-mail. "You have to come in one time a year for an annual exam," Stark said.

The idea –which makes more sense if you read the full story–  came to him while booking a flight.

"I was sitting here and making a seat assignment to go to Miami. And I said, ‘why is it I can make a seat assignment four months in advance and my patients can’t book a half-hour appointment? I started thinking of other things that could be done online."

For instance, written instructions on how to prepare for a colonoscopy, general health tips, or information on Lyme disease.

Which reminded me of the Living Healthy Podcast.

I really think we’ll be seeing more of this.