A health system in a small Minnesota city is planning to provide to all the people in town comprehensive and personal health information delivered through a high-speed network that's already well-established in the community of 30,000.
Winona Health Online, a project launched this week by Winona (Minn.) Health and Cerner Corp., a Kansas City, Mo.-based healthcare information company, aims to cement relationships between care providers and consumers through the broad use and acceptance of interactive health records, said Gary Evans, board chairman of Winona Health.
The system includes 99-bed Community Memorial Hospital and other long-term and post-acute-care facilities.
The online project should be accessible by fall. Individuals will be able to renew medications, make appointments, receive lab results and exchange e-mail messages with their physicians through www.winonahealth.org.
Information gathered in the sign-up process and through online health risk assessments will provide a baseline for community health management initiatives, Evans said.
In the past six months, Internet-technology vendors have brought to market a number of distinct information services, offering to provide targeted healthcare news and medical information, create personal online health records, enable exchanges of managed-care details and issue diagnostic test results quickly to doctors and their patients.
The Winona health information project brings together a well-wired city and a healthcare software company that was seeking a likely candidate for an Internet service combining several e-health objectives into a coordinated online hub.
More than 60% of Winonans are connected to the Internet, and all residents have access through computer labs set up in local schools, senior centers and housing projects, Evans said. The driving force for Internet penetration is a 3-year-old company, Hiawatha Broadband Communications, which delivers data and cable television services over a $20 million network. Evans is president and CEO of the company.
Hiawatha Broadband, a partner in Winona Health Online, was established initially to connect Winona's several colleges and foster economic development. The company is for-profit but 100% locally owned and is oriented toward fostering cheap access. Hiawatha charges $20 a month for cable modem service.
Cerner is redesigning the Winona Health Web site to make it more interactive, said Robert Watson, vice president and general manager of Cerner's new e-health division. Local residents initially will have access to a drug information site--a division of Cerner called Multum--along with a physician directory and community information.
Within 90 days, the health site should have interfaces in place from Winona Health's information systems that will supply lab results and patient-visit notes, Watson said.
Once the data is online and consumers are connected, physicians will be able to securely send specific health information and lab results to their enrolled patients, he said. Each individual online health record will be automatically populated with information and results through physician visits, lab reports and pharmaceutical requests.
Cerner is completing arrangements with CareInsite, a healthcare Internet division of Medical Manager Corp., to provide exchanges of managed-care information such as eligibility and referral authorizations, he said. Cerner owns just under a 20% stake in CareInsite, granted in exchange for the Internet company's use of Cerner technology.