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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 23, 2000. All rights
E-Health: Malpractice Or New Paradigm? Marjorie Chertok
It used to be easy to tell the doctor from the snake
oil salesman — the medical degree hanging on the wall was just
one tip-off — but with the proliferation of health-related
the line between medicine and commerce is becoming blurred, says
Chertok, an attorney at Pitney Hardin Kipp & Szuch. "You don’t
need a medical degree to provide content," she says, "and
it seems that people are getting closer and closer to practicing
The perfect example of the cross-over between pharmacy and healthcare
provider, says Chertok, is MotherNature.com, the holistic pharmacy
that cleverly and cautiously marketed the Peruvian equivalent of
on television by saying "We don’t know if it works, but Peruvian
music is very happy." "You go from that where it’s tongue
in cheek, to websites where they’re really providing consumers with
advice," says Chertok.
Chertok discusses the ramifications of the Health Insurance
and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), a law to protect patient
and regulate the online medical profession, at Technology New Jersey’s
seminar, "E-Commerce and Healthcare: The New Revolution,"
on Thursday, March 2, at 8:30 a.m. at Pitney Hardin Kipp & Szuch in
Florham Park. Also speaking: Michael Dunne
Hardin Kipp and Szuch, Rebecca Weber
James W. Klein
of Healthcare CIO, and Louis Feuerstein
$75. Call 609-419-4444.
Entrepreneurs have been able to cash in on the online healthcare craze
under the premise that health information is not the same as medical
guidance. But consumers/patients have not always been able to sort
medically-sound advice from the cacophony of advertisements, says
Chertok. "They provide you with something a little bit more than
information," she says. "The question then becomes is it an
ethical violation, or good advertising, and I think the line gets
drawn at patient care information."
Even if they don’t practice medicine outright, many of these websites
are collecting and then selling vast amounts of consumer data, and
under HIPAA they can continue to do so. "HIPAA doesn’t protect
consumer sites," says Chertok. "If I go to MotherNature.com
and order all kinds of medications for depression, that information
could be sold."
Although practicing health care online raises some serious ethical
and legal issues, there’s plenty of opportunity for medical
to improve the state of healthcare in this country using the Internet,
says Chertok. "I think that institutions should think about how
they can use the Internet in a very positive sense in terms of patient
communication and care," she says. "The biggest complaint
is that patients feel that their doctor doesn’t care. The healthcare
profession can use the Internet to make sure people have taken their
medication and give them all the things they feel deprived of."
— Melinda Sherwood
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