Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SEMN Beacon & Telemedicine

The Southeast Minnesota (SEMN) Beacon Program including 17 communities in 11 counties has designated the Winona Minnesota community to implement an expanded use of broadband technologies for internal hospital operations and for community-wide telemedicine.

The new broadband network being developed will be called the “Winona Community Telemedicine Network” (WCTN) and will be hosted by Hiawatha Broadband a local broadband network operator.

Using eHealth isn’t new to Winona Health in Minnesota. They started working on incorporating the use of technology ten years ago by digitizing health records, centralizing them, and then enabling other facilities to share records along with doing remote consults. Also, Winona has been working on moving to the cloud for several years.    

Winona Health is in a unique position to implement additional broadband strategies since Winona Health has been a beta site for Cerner Software development for ten years and has be recognized as one of the top Health IT enabled regional hospital systems for the past eight years.

Cerner is helping to develop the needed new medical applications and connections to the core HIT systems at Winona Health. Other organizations in Winona have also committed to expanding the use of broadband to enable telemedicine.

WCTN will provide for a minimum of 40 telemedicine stations to be located at older adult assisted living and nursing home facilities, group homes for the disabled, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Winona county agencies, county jail, and schools.

Each location will be given a shared access multi-media telemedicine station that will include live encrypted video conferencing and will support remote medical data collection, patient assessment, access to personal health records, and the ability to communicate to all healthcare services on the network.

Winona Health will implement the needed technology for all of its internal operations to utilize the new telemedicine network. WCTN will enable Winona Health and other providers the ability to evaluate the addition of telemedicine to the care plans for patients with diabetes and for juvenile asthma patients as part of the Beacon program.

The company A-Vu Media was chosen as Winona Health’s development partner in the federally sponsored CMS Innovation Grant program. The focus for A-Vu’s efforts is to develop and implement technology to extend telemedicine services to the homes of community residents suffering from five or more chronic illnesses.

Their goal is also to extend the reach of WCTN to additional nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and public housing locations. Currently, A-Vu’s ePortals are now on line at Winona Health, at an assisted living complex, at a nursing home, Winona Health’s Rushford clinic, and at several schools.

It was reported by Connect Minnesota a non-profit acting in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, that one half of internet-connected Minnesotans use eHealth applications. Further, internet-connected seniors represent a sizeable portion of these users as over one-half of adults over 65 use e-Health applications. 

Go to to view the report “Exploring Broadband’s Impact on Minnesota Healthcare.”