Cisco - online push cuts costs and improves care, the plan could prompt wide change

Experts think it could help usher in a new era of health care. The payoff, they say, is not so much the cost savings that typically come with the adoption of technology. The real goal is to build huge warehouses of data about how health care is delivered, what works, and what doesn't. With that information, companies that pay for workers' health care can insist on the adoption of more effective and cost-efficient treatments. Unlike other pay-for-performance programs, Cisco's coalition will tie payments explicitly to technology adoption. One example is e-mail messaging between doctors and patients. Typically, doctors have been reluctant to trade e-mail with patients because they usually don't get paid for sending them, and they're leery of the liability of making a diagnosis over the Net. Now, however, Cisco is offering financial incentives to 8 to 10 big Bay Area medical groups to provide secure messaging to patients. Cisco will pay a fee for an online consultation -- exact prices are being negotiated, but they'll likely be some discount to an office visit. So doctors make money for offering their expertise. And patients don't have to miss a day of work to get routine stuff like sore throats or fevers treated.

Cisco: Paging Dr. Info Tech

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