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Hungary launches its first “website hospital”

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7266.916/b (Published 14 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:916
  1. Carl Kovac
  1. Budapest

    Hungary's first private, profit making “website hospital” has gone on line, offering free medical advice from some 50 practitioners from 11 specialties. The doctors will also provide consultations with patients in person, if necessary, for which they will be paid.

    The website—www.netkorhaz.hu/ (“korhaz” is Hungarian for hospital)—was the brainchild of gynaecologist Dr Gyula Csermely, former manager of Hungary's first private hospital, built two years ago near the village of Telki, about 20 km west of Budapest (BMJ 1998;316:1768).

    The site promises to put users in touch with a specialist who will reply to their questions, via email, within 24 hours, or they may direct their questions at any of the listed specialists. The doctors receive no fees from users for their email advice.

    The advantage for doctors participating in the scheme, however, is that their names are included on the website list for no charge. If a patient requires a personal consultation, the doctor is paid for it, either by national health insurance or by the patient himself.

    “We've chosen doctors we've known for a long time and have good relations with,” said Zoltán Lenhárt, the managing director of Netkorhaz.hu.

    Income is expected to be generated by advertisers. As of last week, however, only one pharmaceutical company, Pharmavit, owned by Bristol-Myers Squibb, was flashing its logo on the site.

    Mr Lenhárt said that he expects tens of thousands of visitors to visit the site, thus attracting more advertisers and sponsors. He is optimistic despite the fact that currently only about 6% of Hungary's 10 million inhabitants can access the internet from home and only 15% of about four million households have one or more personal computers.

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