Online registration streamlines 9Health Fairs in Grand County
April 5, 2009
The Granby and Fraser 9Health Fair sites are among eight out of 170 statewide offering the opportunity to register online.
Available now is the online registration set up to ultimately shorten long lines on Fair day and reduce extended waits for health-test results.
On the day of the Fair, “You know the people in line have been fasting 12 hours,” said John Erwin, retired information-systems specialist and seven-year volunteer as site director for Fraser’s Fair. He worked with the 9Health Manager of Information Systems Michael Niederhauser to get the registration system developed. “You know they’re desperate for a donut or sandwich or something, so we don’t want them in line for 30 minutes. It’s probably going to take us less than a minute to process individuals who registered online.”
Erwin estimates those who register online will get their health-test results sooner, in as little as five to 10 days versus several weeks. The elimination of paperwork data-entry makes this possible.
Online registration also requires fewer volunteers at the fair. Other advantages, according to Erwin, are the ability to pay with a credit card and to have results stored in the electronic vault indefinitely. Individuals will be able to access their own confidential records several years later.
“It’s very, very high security on multiple levels,” said Niederhauser, describing the highly encrypted format needed for storing medical records in compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act.
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In making records available to health consumers online, 9Health may be on the cutting edge of a shift toward electronic medical-record keeping on a more common scale, he said. Allowing people to have access to results over a long period of time ” at their fingertips through a secure Internet connection ” is something medical consumers may start seeing more in the next decade. Touted during the Obama campaign, electronically stored medical records could not only save lines, proponents say, but could also save the health-care system billions. Having patient history and records available online could prevent physicians from ordering duplicate tests, for example.
“We’re really testing what we see as the future of the 9News Health Fair,” Erwin said. “I’m guessing in three or four years there will be no more paper.”
The sheer growth of the event could drive the Fair in that direction. The number of individuals who have registered at the Fraser site alone has doubled since 2002.
And now with families recession-strapped, numbers are predicted to soar this year.
“9Health is telling us, because of the economy, some sites could see 12 to 15 percent growth. For people who have lost their jobs and don’t have insurance, the Health Fair may be the only affordable health care they can get,” Erwin said.
The average cost for an individual’s 9Health screening is $30. It’s estimated the same screening could cost around $800 if administered through a hospital or clinic. On the 9Health Web site, it’s recommended individuals do not treat the 9Health Fair as a substitute for proper care under a physician, however, but treat it as a screening, the results of which should be followed-up by a doctor.
“For someone who doesn’t have insurance, it’s an affordable option for getting information on your health,” Erwin said.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.