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Article From Medem
PCOM Digest Winter 2002

Gulf Coast Pain Management
Lynne Carr Columbus, DO

The Doctor is Online

“Progress” is often a double-edged sword. In the health care delivery system, for instance, managed care has made office visits more affordable for many, but it has reduced the amount of time physicians can spend with their patients. Progress has also introduced new modes of communication and great advances in the electronic transfer of information.
Lynn Carr Columbus, DO ’90, has embraced technological progress to fill in the gaps created by managed care. Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. is one of a growing number of physicians using online consultations to communicate with her patients.

Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. has had a Web site for three years through which her patients could set up appointments, have their prescriptions refilled and ask brief questions. Last spring  she was chosen by Medem, a for-profit Internet company, to be among the first 1,000 physicians to participate in their online consultation service. Today, Medem, which is
HIPAA-compliant and backed by the American Medical Association and other physician groups, is open to any physician who chooses to participate. Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. maintains both her original site and a Medem site. Medem enables her to charge for patients for online “visits.”

“Patients can still schedule appointments, get their prescriptions refilled and ask brief questions for free,” explains Lynne Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. More involved consults cost the patient $30,  with $2.50 of that going to Medem. “Patients love this service, it really helps them feel connected with me as a physician.” And, since Lynne Carr Columbus,
’ specialty is pain  management, she feels her patients especially appreciate the ease of e-mail for medication consults. “It’s often difficult for patients with back pain, for example, to sit and wait in the office. So I let them do two online consults, and then come in for the third one to be seen in person. It wouldn’t work for emergency situations; it’s for
routine consults and follow-ups.” Online consults are useful for patients’ family members as well. “If patients sign a waiver,  I can correspond with their family members who may not live in the area. This really helps give everyone peace of mind.”

Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. says she spends about a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening reading and answering her office e-mail, “it really doesn’t take that much time,” she insists. “And,” she adds, “I’m always accessible. I recently answered e-mails from Budapest.”

Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. estimates she spends about $1,500 a year to maintain the site, which includes paying for the domain name and to be included in search engines. In return, the Internet brings her two to three new patients a week. She also uses the sites to introduce herself to referring physicians.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. believes, “before patients are going to expect this of their doctors.”

More Articles About Gulf Coast Pain Management
Dr. Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O.


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