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Physician IT

Telus packages ePocrates with Treo for doctors

TORONTO – Telus has launched a new service that combines the ePocrates drug management system with a Treo handheld device, providing phone, e-mail and web communication over the Telus 1X/EVDO high-speed wireless network in Canada.

The solution, called “Wireless Physician”, creates an all-in-one system for doctors that equips them with drug references, medical decision support, medication updates and alerts, along with the mobile phone and computing capabilities of the Treo.

“We wanted to create a valuable solution for doctors, using the most helpful applications,” said Zak Bhamani, Associate Principal, Vertical Strategy, with Telus Mobility.

“Doctors are always on the go,” said Bhamani. “Even in hospitals, they’re moving from room to room. They’re constantly communicating with a lot of people and they’re regularly checking drug references, like the CPS [Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties], so a portable drug reference system seemed like a natural.”

He explained that Telus opted for the Treo, since the Palm handheld computer is already a popular portable device for doctors.

Moreover, on the application side, it struck up an alliance with ePocrates, as an estimated 40 percent of Canadian physicians have already downloaded and tried the ePocrates system.

Earlier this year, ePocrates announced that it had created a Canadian version of its system, using Canadian drug names.

Other useful components of the ePocrates solution include a decision support system, which allows doctors to select symptoms and check on diagnoses and therapies.

In creating the Wireless Physician solution, Telus responded to requests from doctors for a device that would consolidate all of their information and communication requirements.

Using the Wireless Physician, doctors will be able to combine multiple resources on one appliance, rather than carrying around several – like a pager, handheld computer and cell phone, said Bhamani. At a relatively low cost, the Telus system combines all of them.

Telus is currently offering promotional pricing for the solution, consisting of $99 for the Treo (regular cost is $299), and a year-long subscription to ePocrates for $99. Various packages are available for wireless phone and data services from Telus, depending on usage.

For its part, ePocrates provides information on more than 3,300 brand and generic drugs; over 1,200 diseases and conditions; and more than 300 lab test panels.

Its support tools include drug-interaction checking for multiple drugs and herbal remedies at one time.

The company said that product content is continually updated and comes with services such as DocAlert messaging (relevant and timely news for physicians), and the MobileCME, a system that enables doctors to do continuing medical education courses right on the mobile device.

According to paper by researchers at Harvard University Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, 60 percent of U.S. ePocrates users reported avoiding three or more adverse events or medical errors per month.

The paper was delivered in October 2005 at the American Medical Informatics Association meeting; final results were to be published this year.

ePocrates subscribers in the United States reported using the application an average of five times per day.