Hopkins expands data systems It joins WorldCare telemedicine group, gains link to AOL

Health care

October 31, 1997|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Continuing to explore ways to market its medical expertise, Johns Hopkins Medicine announced two health-by-telecommunications deals yesterday.

Hopkins will join three other prestigious medical centers -- Massachusetts General Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Medical Center -- in providing telemedicine consulting for a company called WorldCare Limited.

And InteliHealth, for which Hopkins provides health information, announced that its World Wide Web health site will be an "anchor tenant" for the Health Channel of the on-line service America Online.

Telemedicine is not a new business for Hopkins; it already does consulting for foreign doctors and hospitals with which it has built a relationship. But WorldCare, already providing telemedicine services to five Mideast countries, has potential to expand the number of cases beamed to Hopkins.

Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, executive vice dean of the medical school, said there are no firm projections, but Hopkins expects perhaps 20 to 30 cases a month from WorldCare. Eventually, Dr. Zerhouni said, Hopkins would like to become "a U.S. hub for international care."

InteliHealth already has a Web site, but its placement on AOL increases its visibility to AOL's 9 million subscribers, who will be just "two clicks away" from the Hopkins information, said Scott Sherman, assistant dean of the Hopkins medical school. InteliHealth can sell advertising on the AOL health pages.

Hopkins has equity in both WorldCare and InteliHealth, in exchange not for cash investments but for "intellectual capital." It also receives fee-for-service payments for consultations generated by WorldCare and royalty payments from InteliHealth.

Sherman oversees the Office of Consumer Health Information, which negotiates deals not only for electronic information but for books and newsletters, in which Hopkins-generated content is used by publishers. In the last year, Sherman said, the office has generated $4 million in guaranteed royalty payments.

WorldCare was formed as a joint venture with Mass General to provide teleradiology in the Mideast, beginning service to Saudi Arabia in 1994, according to Charles N. Stolper, chief financial officer. It now handles about a thousand cases a year, but plans to extend services soon to the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Italy, India, Mexico, Cypress, Kuwait and Turkey.

In addition to electronic transmission for radiology, Zerhouni said, in some cases, tissue samples will be sent by overnight delivery to Hopkins for analysis by the pathology department.

He said some foreign doctors or clinics will request specific doctors in one of the participating institutions. Others will simply zip their cases to the Cambridge, Mass., office of WorldCare to be distributed to the four medical centers on a rotating basis.

A coordinator at Hopkins will refer cases to the proper specialists and coordinate when more than one department is involved.

InteliHealth was launched last year as a joint venture of Hopkins and Aetna U.S. Healthcare. Believing "It's important not just putting up a Web site, but distributing on different venues," Sherman said, InteliHealth provides Hopkins health information through CompuServe's on-line service and via PointCast, a "push technology" which feeds requested information directly to users' computers, rather than requiring them to seek it.

Pub Date: 10/31/97

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