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WellNet launches social networking site for healthcare providers

WellNet Healthcare this month will launch a test version of Point to Point Healthcare, a social network linking users’ physicians, pharmacists and insurance benefit managers, the Washington Post reports. The online tool will allow employees of companies who use the program to connect their health care providers to facilitate treatments. The tool will also feature an online concierge that can assist employees in finding new specialists and a message system that issues reminders to pick up prescriptions.

WellNet, which helps employers evaluate their corporate health plans by collecting anonymous data on employee’s medical and pharmacy activity, will be able to monitor the social network to track such data in real time, the Post reports. WellNet will initially offer the program at no cost if clients transfer their pharmacy benefits to WellNet. WellNet plans in early 2009 to open the services to other companies for a licensing fee. Success, Concerns
The success of the program is dependent on whether WellNet is able to get its network of 300,000 primary care physicians to use it, according to the Post. Joseph Heyman, board chair for the American Medical Association, said, “It depends how simple it is to use these online tools” adding, “If it means extra work, and it’s not a time-saver, [physicians are] generally not interested.”

According to the Post, privacy advocates are concerned about the security of Web-based medical records. Deborah Peel, founder of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, said, “There isn’t any way to fix a violation of your sensitive health records.” In addition, some are worried that the identities of the employees could be discovered because WellNet typically deals with small and mid-sized companies, where it could be easier to identify an employee.

WellNet officials said Point to Point, developed by software company Healthcare Interactive, will use the same security used by online banking systems and will be guarded by the legal protections specified by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In addition, company officials said users of Point to Point can control access to different parts of their medical profile (Marr, Washington Post, 8/16).