Winter 2006

Fetal Web Portal

The UCSF Fetal Treatment Center has long fielded patient and physician inquiries from afar. Most inquiries have come by phone or by mail, which can make the process slower and less efficient than it would be if the patient were in San Francisco. Now, however, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital is setting up a new web portal, called "Inside," that will allow patients more rapid and individualized access to services provided by physicians at the Fetal Treatment Center.

"We are trying to streamline the system and make it easier for patients, physicians and UCSF staff to exchange information," says Colin Fahrion, web manager for the Fetal Treatment Center.

Currently, patients or physicians call specialists at the Fetal Treatment Center and describe what is happening over the phone. This may be followed by mailed videotapes or CDs of ultrasounds, which may take some time to arrive.

"This is fine for some things; but in emergent situations, it's best to be able to transfer accurate information in a quick and efficient manner, which is what the web portal would provide," says Jody Farrell, a pediatric nurse practitioner who is the clinical coordinator for the center.

Bringing this project to life has been a more complex process than creating a simple Web site, Fahrion says. "There have been legal issues surrounding evaluating out-of-state patients and requirements surrounding the telemedicine laws. But we have worked through that, and we are now just ironing out the technical issues," he says.

The rollout of the Inside portal will come in two stages. "The first stage will be directed to patients, who will each get their own page, which will be secure to maintain confidentiality," Fahrion says.

The next stage will bring the referring physicians into the picture, so that they can see all their patients online and interact with them securely via the website, Fahrion says. Physicians will be able to host the portal through their own websites, he adds.

Once both stages are complete, the Inside fetal web portal should significantly improve communications. "When we get information through the portal, it will streamline our practice," Farrell says. "We will be able to get all the data at once and provide a quicker review by the physicians. If we can get patients and referring physicians real-time information, it will lead to better patient care."

For more information, contact Colin Fahrion at (415) 476-3070 or Jody Farrell at (800) 793-3887.

Related Information

News Releases

Renowned Children's Hospital Surgeon Lauded by AAP, Surgeons
Renowned fetal surgeon Michael R. Harrison, M.D., was honored this fall by two of the nation's most prestigious medical professional organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Surgeons, for his contributions to both fields.

Bloomingdale's Opening Raises Over $200,000 for UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
The Grand Opening Gala for Bloomingdales in San Francisco garnered more than $200,000 in donations for UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. The funds will help children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.