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Secure Medical Email

Techstination feature for Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Secure email between you and your doctor. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. You're used to using email for all kinds of personal and office communications, but when it comes to health care... that kind of technology is rarely used. One of the reasons is concern for patient privacy. The health care unit at Siemens is among the companies trying to change that by using software to encrypt sensitive email and even instant messages. Sue Merk is director of community innovations at Siemens Medical Solutions...

"All of us are used to doing banking transactions, more and more education is using email to communicate. So there are a lot of things that as consumers we're used to doing. We'd like to have that same efficiency with our physicians and our health care providers. So this is about bringing health care into the 21st century and finding for them the same efficiency that businesses have found using email as a simple communication tool."

Among those testing the secure electronic communications system... is Alegent Health in Omaha... .which operates eight hospitals and one hundred medical clinics. IT vice president Ken Lawonn..

"We were getting a growing demand from our consumers... our patients and our physicians... to begin to be able to communicate between each other with email. We wanted to be able to support that but we were very concerned about protecting the information and wanted to make sure that the messaging was secure."

The cost to doctors... .about 10 dollars a month for unlimited access to the secure messaging system. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.