The march of science

Anyone who has dealt with the medical system is familiar with the problem: the long (it always seems long, even if it’s a day) wait for the results of medical tests. Once again, the Net has come to the rescue with an efficient, economical solution.

A U.S. company provides a data service that enables healthcare providers to order lab tests and obtain results on-line, via a browser. Healtheon Corporation uses a browser on-line via the Internet, intranets and extranets to connect with reference labs for the secure transfer of clinical data. The service simplifies the test ordering process, speeds access to patient information, and links any duplicate patient records. The doctor’s office or clinic is notified as soon as results are ready, which eliminates the usual delay for patients. All of the medical data on the system is secure and only shared among authorized agencies.

Most doctors now order lab tests using either paper forms or proprietary computer systems connected to a single laboratory. Results from each lab are delivered back on paper or to a dedicated system, which limits the doctors’ ability to view a patient’s cumulative results or results from another lab. Since ts alternative system uses the Internet, qualified personnel can instantly call up your test results from any PC with a browser and modem.

In addition to providing faster and easier access to test results for doctors and patients, the developers say the system allows doctors to make more informed diagnoses and treatment decisions, with the patient’s complete test profile at their fingertips. Perhaps not surprisingly, Healtheon was founded in 1996 by Jim Clark, an Internet pioneer at Netscape and Silicon Graphics.