Physicians are embracing eHealth, based on a policy paper just published by the American College of Physicians (the ACP), E-Health and Its Impact on Medical Practice.

The ACP represents internists — and is the largest medical-specialty organization and second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP has 125,000 members, which represents roughly 20% of American physicians.

In researching their paper, the ACP found more than 50 definitions of “eHealth.” For their purposes, they define the term in three buckets:

1. Telemedicine, which includes remote monitoring (“e-Visits”) and secure messaging between patients and physicians.

2. Patient use of online health-information sources, which may be self-selected or recommended and vetted by his/her physicians.

3. Patient use of an interactive Patient Portal or Personal Health Record (PHR).

While the ACP is well aware of the challenges that eHealth brings to current medical practices and patient relationships, the position paper clearly communicates that they believe the benefits of eHealth outweigh the liabilities. Issues that need to be solved range from medico-legal to patient privacy and reimbursement.

The ACP underscores the utility of eHealth for advancing the patient-centered medical home care model — including access to care for all patients, efficient use of primary care physician resources, and the strengthening of the physician-patient relationship.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Physicians have often been characterized as health IT-allergic, but it’s clear those days are gone. We are well beyond the tipping point when it comes to physicians’ acceptance — I daresay embrace — of eHealth. The ACP is spot-on when it looks to eHealth tools to enable the medical home. A first wave of people/patients/caregivers is already embracing these tools. As physicians come on board, even greater impacts can be made on peoples’ health engagement, patient outcomes, expanded access, and health literacy. Payers, pay attention. Physicians are ready to realign and re-engineer the practice of medicine toward patient-centrism.

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