An Internet-based information service for physicians and an online healthcare transaction processing firm have made a set of management and communications services available to 25% of the nation's doctors and their office staff.
Last week's launch of Officestaff.com, a venture between Physicians' Online and Claimsnet.com, centers on making physician offices better able to deal with both payers and patients, said Louis Summe, vice president of product management for Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Physicians' Online.
Summe's company, which connects physicians to information sources and to each other, has a total registration of 210,000 doctors, and about 80,000 of them use the site regularly.
The Physicians' Online World Wide Web site began displaying a series of hyperlinks and electronic forms enabling any registered physician to sign up for Officestaff and create an administrative home page for office personnel within 10 minutes, he said.
The alliance between Physicians' Online and Dallas-based Claimsnet.com will join the competitive market for Web sites offering comprehensive healthcare information services by year-end.
That's when Mediconsult.com, a New York-based provider of patient-oriented information, expects to complete its acquisition of Physicians' Online in a stock deal valued at $180 million, including debt assumption.
Mediconsult's arrival completes the emerging business model whereby targeted information and services attract a synergistic trio of customers: patients, physicians and payers.
Competitors such as Atlanta-based WebMD have concentrated initially on making a splash with consumers and then signing up physicians and healthcare systems attracted to the brand name. The Officestaff.com initiative instead plays to a captive audience of Physicians' Online registrants seeking to streamline administration and improve customer service, said Terry Lee, chief operating officer of Claimsnet.com.
The transaction processing company will charge physician offices $25 a month for unlimited submissions of most commercial insurance claims. In addition to that revenue source, Claimsnet.com receives rebates from commercial carriers, which save money by receiving claims electronically, Lee said.
The Claimsnet.com range of services includes verification of eligibility for insured services, referral authorizations and the use of practice claims data to track patient trends and business performance.
Physicians' Online will contribute services that assist patients in communicating with physician offices, such as requests for information, appointment scheduling or cancellation, prescription refills and appointment reminders, Summe said.
Except for the Claimsnet.com services, the Officestaff.com offering is free to registered Physicians' Online doctors and their offices, Lee said.