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ReliefInsite.com: Interview with the founder of the online pain diary

I’ve recently written about ReliefInsite.com, a secure online pain management service, for both the physician and the patient. Now I got a chance to make an interview with the founder, Fred Eberlein:

  • When and how did you come up with the idea of creating an online “pain diary”?

The idea for the ReliefInsite pain management service is based on two facts. The first is that patient self-reporting plays a critical role in pain diagnosis and treatment. The second is that healthcare lacks a cost-effective means for collecting, organizing, and presenting such information in a way that is clear and actionable.

The initial idea for ReliefInsite came up in a meeting I had with Mark Perloe, MD, in June 2000 during a visit to his medical practice in Atlanta, Georgia. I was meeting with Mark to get his feedback on another healthcare application called Ovusoft. (Ovusoft is used for fertility tracking and pregnancy planning.) At one-point during our weekend-long meeting Mark suggested that Ovusoft could also be used for tracking pelvic pain. This kicked-off a lot of questions in my mind and eventually led to my interest in pain management. Within a year I had hooked-up with Edgar Ross, MD. Ed is Director of the Pain and Palliative Care Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Both Mark and Ed serve on our Medical Advisory Board and have provided invaluable insight into the needs of the patient, their physician, and the overall (and often complex) world of healthcare.

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  • Do you plan to co-operate with other web 2.0 based sites focusing on patient records (e.g. MyOpenCare)?

Yes, absolutely. Our mission is to help patients build intelligent and meaningful health records that help them to better communicate with their doctor (and other caregivers) and, as result, receive better and faster treatment. Our service is designed to securely reach out and collect key patient details – directly from the patient. This is done over the Internet and through mobile devices and other means. ReliefInsite.com is built completely on open-source technology and is provided as a secure service (SaaS) over the Internet. Working with third parties and providing branded service is part of our strategy.

  • I have no doubts that patients will like your features and use the site, but what about the physicians? Do they tend to use it?

Good question. Physicians, at least those in the US, are generally too busy to login. Many see 35-40 patients a day and fewer than 15% are using EMRs (Electronic Medical Records). That said, within our Sharing Partner model, we offer all healthcare providers a secure portal for tracking their patients. In many practices this means that a nurse or healthcare administrator may access a patient’s report.

Any healthcare provider can go to our site and register for free. From there they can send invitations to their patients to use ReliefInsite. Patients can sign-up for either the Free or Premium diary and then authorize their healthcare provider to access their diary.

In most instances patients print their diary report from ReliefInsite and bring it to their doctor. This seems to be what doctors prefer most. That way there’s no added burden on them or their staff.

  • Has it already been used as a research tool?

We are engaged in our first research project at this time with the Brooks Health System, located in Jacksonville, Florida. We have also been approached by a number of firms who are interested in using ReliefInsite for purposes of client trials.

  • As far as I know, ReliefInsite is developed in Hungary. Why did you choose that country?

Yes that’s right. All development is made in Budapest. The favorable location, level of programming skills, and overall cost of development makes Budapest an attractive place for us. We plan to continue on this path for the foreseeable future and to find opportunities for our service within the EU too.

  • At last, could we know how many users do you have at the moment?

During our beta period we had over 3,000 users. Since the launch of our new service in August users have grown to about 4,000. With upcoming releases of ReliefInsite we estimate having close to 8,000 users by yearend. These figures do not include the number of patients being managed by business clients of ours who are using the ReliefInsite service.

Thank you, Fred Eberlein, for the kind answers! ReliefInsite.com is a perfect example how to use web 2.0 in medicine, especially in a medical practice. I hope this unique site will get even more attention!

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