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May 19, 2010
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Minneapolis-based Zipnosis has started a one-year pilot this month with local provider Park Nicollet Health Services to diagnose and prescribe medication for minor ailments like the common cold, allergies, or bladder infections online.

Consumers fill out a survey at Zipnosis’ website, which is then sent to two nurse practitioners on duty at Park Nicollet’s Quick Check center who review the answers and send back a diagnosis. The process takes about an hour, and consumers can pick up their prescriptions at their local pharmacy, all without talking to a clinician in person or on the phone.

Some local doctors, however, warn the program could lead to misdiagnosis. Dr. Benjamin Whitten, president of the Minnesota Medical Association, said his personal view is that "written information and checklists" can't replace seeing a patient in person.

Over 300 people statewide have already used the service. The program is led by Rick Krieger, who previously cofounded a company that became MinuteClinic.

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