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SEPTEMBER 29 , 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 38 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Lucas Oleniuk for Asiaweek.


Wired Executive
Dr. David Owens, Hong Kong Physician
By ALLEN T. CHENG

Earlier this year, Dr. David Owens received an e-mail from a patient with a jpeg file showing a rash the patient was worried about. "That was my first truly online consultation," says Owens. The prognosis was good. "I told him it would go away."

Owens' affinity for digital aids, however, has not gone away. His practice, Owens, Trodd & Partners, is one of the most wired in Hong Kong. While the vast majority of exams are still done in person, Owens has dealt with serious problems over the Internet, including one case where a child came down with severe gastro-enteritis in Cambodia. Patients also e-mail daily asking for simple answers like lab results. It is easier for them than trading phone messages with the doctor.

Computers have made office procedures easier too. A custom electronic management system keeps records on the four-clinic intranet and lets doctors know when their patients have arrived. Once the exam is finished, the physician can print the bill without the help of a records clerk. The system has helped trim waiting times and cut administration costs by 65%. Owens reckons it paid for itself in less than six months.

Because all the records are computerized, they can be easily audited to see, for instance, how often the practice is prescribing antibiotics.

But Owens admits technology is not all good. "One of the disadvantages of IT is it makes people even lazier," he says. "I'm constantly telling people to exercise more." His prescription: log off after hours and get active.

E-mails per day: 30
Favorite software application: "My clinic management program. It has personal, professional and patient benefits"
Personal Digital Assistant: Palm Pilot and cellphone. "I couldn't survive without them."
Preferred analog activity Spending time with family, any sport (playing, rather than watching), music, reading, guitar
Bookmarks: www.healthinfohk.com, the site run by his practice
www.telegraph.co.uk, "for keeping in touch with news in the U.K."
www.liverpoolfc.net, the Liverpool Football Club homepage
Last electronic purchase: CD and sheet music from Oxford University Press for son's clarinet exam


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