Alaska hospital loses antitrust suit. An exclusive contract with an anesthesia group will cost Alaska's largest not-for-profit hospital $2 million, after a jury last week sided with two doctors who had filed a civil antitrust suit. A spokeswoman for 341-bed Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage, said the hospital is exploring its appeal options. The contract assigned anesthesia and pain-management services at the hospital to Providence Anchorage Anesthesia Medical Group. A doctor formerly with the group testified in a deposition that his colleagues wanted to eliminate competition from other pain-management doctors.
Wireless computer firm gets funding. EPhysician, a developer of wireless hand-held computer applications for physicians, has received $18 million in new funding. Among those investing in the Mountain View, Calif.-based company are CVS Corp., the pharmacy giant, and Palm, maker of the increasingly popular Palm Pilot. The 3-year-old ePhysician will use the capital to expand services and marketing efforts. Services available through ePhysician include charting, drug reference information, electronic prescribing and patient billing.
Docs slow to embrace Web, survey finds. The vast majority of patients would like to communicate with their physicians over the Internet, but doctors have been slow to embrace the Web, according to a recent survey conducted by Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive. Of 1,000 healthcare consumers surveyed by Harris, 81% would like to receive e-mail reminders for preventive care, 83% would like their doctors to e-mail visit follow-up information and 84% would like to access their lab results online. Meanwhile, "many physicians are concerned that (the Internet) will lead to the impersonalization of care," the Harris study said.
Data on physician visits contradict image. America's doctors are spending more, not less, time with their patients, according to a report in the Jan. 18 New England Journal of Medicine. Contrary to widespread assumptions about the pressures of managed care on physician workloads, the length of the typical office visit increased by one to two minutes between 1989 and 1998, the study found. The rate of visits per 100 people did not change measurably. The authors noted that "the busiest physicians," who presumably spend the least amount of time with patients, "were less likely to participate in the surveys."