The move toward online health records has taken a big step forward.
Microsoft and Kaiser Permanente plan to test a program that will provide information transfers from Kaiser’s health manager to Microsoft’s consumer health platform.
The pilot program is expected to create strategies for expanding consumer access to online health information and management tools.
It will allow Kaiser’s members to combine their personal health information with Microsoft’s health and wellness management applications and devices.
Kaiser Permanente’s 156,000 employees will be eligible to participate in the pilot program. If successful, the program will be expanded to include Kaiser’s more than 8 million members.

Medicare education

The Colorado State Health Insurance Assistance Program will receive $168,507 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide beneficiaries with more information about their health care options
The money is part of a total of $50 million distributed across the United States during 2008, a $20 million increase from fiscal year 2007.
CMS expects the states to help Medicare beneficiaries who might be unable to access other sources of information, such as the online tools available at www.medicare.gov.

Rabies alert

For the first time since 1998, El Paso County could see rabies in its skunk population, as the disease moves west from the eastern plains.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has tracked 10 cases of rabies in skunks during the past year. Based upon the animals’ travel patterns, the health department believes that rabies has re-established and is moving toward the Front Range.
The health department recommends that people make sure their pets’ rabies vaccinations are up to date, despite the fact that rabies in domestic pets has been historically low for several decades. A person who has been bitten by a rabid animal must receive medical treatment to prevent the development of the deadly illness.
Other recommendations:
Don’t feed wild animals or allow your pets to be around them.
Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, such as a skunk, bat, fox or raccoon.
People with suspect rabies exposure should see a doctor immediately.
People can discuss vaccination of livestock with their veterinarians. Horses, breeding stock and dairy cattle can be vaccinated.

Cancer prevention

A recognition program for the best cancer detection and prevention programs in Colorado is designed to drive business to the highest quality health insurance plans.
The American Cancer Society and the Colorado Business Group on Health created the pilot program to identify the top-performing health plans — based on cancer screening and prevention measures, including tobacco cessation and weight management programs, patient education, workplace wellness, reminder systems and community engagement.
Each insurance provider recognized by the program will be able to use the American Cancer Society in its marketing, and will be recognized during the Colorado Culture of Health Conference on Oct. 28.

Treatment trial begins

Spectranetics has launched a trial in Poland to examine the efficacy of its laser treatment for major cardiovascular conditions.
The trial will include 200 patients with acute myocardial infarction. One group will receive excimer laser treatment and direct stenting; the other group will receive balloon angioplasty and stenting.
The company conducted a similar trial in Italy with favorable results, said John Schulte, president and chief executive officer.
Spectranetics manufactures the only excimer laser approved in the United States, Europe and Japan for use in minimally invasive cardiovascular procedures. The technology treats cardiovascular disease by photo-ablating multiple lesions into tiny particles that are easily absorbed into the blood stream.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.