Emory Report
April 11, 2005
Volume 58, Number 26


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April 11, 2005
Online MedBuddy a comfort to students, help to SHS

BY katherine baust

A product developed by Goizueta Business School alumnus Charlie Goetz, BBA ’78, is making life easier for Emory students and the Student Health Services (SHS) staff. Goetz is CEO of Intelligent Medical Solutions, provider of a web-based software known as MedBuddy, which SHS rolled out last August.

Upon enrolling, new students now sign up for MedBuddy when they fill out a required, online medical history form. The system gives students 24/7 confidential access to information and allows them to request appointment and prescription refills, receive health test results via e-mail, and ask questions of qualified medical personnel without the need to speak to a person on the phone. MedBuddy also has a built-in “tickler file” that reminds students to schedule annuals, exams, tests or follow-up appointments.

“The best thing about MedBuddy as a whole is it gives you a complete set of information,” said Michael Huey, SHS executive director. “It archives everything so you have the full patient history. It tells you when students have picked up messages (a valuable tool for lab results) and minimizes the number of times you have to go back to the student for more information.

“The student response has been phenomenal; we’ve been thrilled,” Huey continued. “Exactly 33 percent of our students are MedBuddy enrollees, and there has been a lot of traffic. Beyond just the sign-ups, there have been 5,000 interactions so far, meaning we have filled a prescription or answered their questions, made an appointment, etc. The feedback we have received has been incredible.”

The system originally was developed about three years ago for private physician primary care, according to Goetz. He said more than 1,000 Atlanta doctors’ offices have installed the system in the past two years. “As we started using it,” Goetz said, “we began to see MedBuddy’s potential as a tool for university student health services—because where else do you get a whole patient base that is 100 percent computer literate?”

Though SHS staff initially were anxious the change would double their workload, Huey said, it didn’t take much time for them to warm to MedBuddy after students began picking it up; call volume dropped, and staff spent less time playing phone tag.

Huey said his biggest concern was the module that provides a web-based health care consultation. “We were nervous because we thought we might get convoluted information and not have the patient there,” he said. “But it asks all the questions we would have asked; the reason we know that is because we wrote the questions. They gave us a template with a bunch of questions that we modified.”

According to Goetz, Emory is not the only school that’s found a friend in MedBuddy; he said the University of Alabama will implement the system this month, along with Georgia Southern University in Statesboro and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.