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Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, IL, is placing two eKiosks, stand-alone Internet workstations, in its main lobby and outpatient admissions area. The eKiosks will feature wireless, high-speed broadband connectivity and will allow users to perform various computer tasks.
"We are excited about what this means to our patients and visitors," says Lisa Lagger, Provena spokeswoman. Businesspeople can use the eKiosks to connect to their offices, younger people can use them for research and homework. "It’s going to be a terrific asset to our patients and their families and visitors."
Provena signed a three-year agreement with eKiosk of New Lenox, IL, developer of the workstations. Health care is a new arena for eKiosk, which had previously focused on the hospitality and airline industries. "I envision this [venture] to be like the more sophisticated airport lounges that are consumer-focused," Lagger says.
These workstations are the pay phones of the 21st century, says John Bohrer, eKiosk’s vice president of its health care division. The eKiosks have both phone lines and a variety of ports, such as USB, RJ-11 modem, RJ-45 data, and infrared, that can connect laptops, notebooks, palmtops, and other handheld devices to the Internet.
The company also recently acquired technology, called "MyID," that provides users with the security of a virtual private network, Bohrer adds. MyID authenticates users through the use of an existing credit card and then allows them to connect to their desktop at a remote location.
eKiosk users can connect to the Internet for free at Provena for the first 10 minutes. After that, users pay a fee for minutes on-line, such as 10 minutes for $2.50. "Users can buy [additional] minutes like a pre-paid telephone card," says Jack Querio, eKiosk’s senior vice president of sales.
The workstations also offer other services for nominal fees. These services include Microsoft Office applications, video e-mail, text e-mail, and text-to-any-fax number. Each unit has an audio headset jack and speaker, a video camera, microphone, IBM Microdrive reader, and floppy disc drive. The workstations also have an attached telephone handset with which users can call eKiosk’s customer service department at any time.
The workstations offer free, unlimited access to the information on Provena’s eb site. "One of the greatest things from our vantage point is having our own web site displayed on the main screen when the eKiosk is not in use. This gives constant, high visibility to the medical center and its web site," Lagger says.
Hospitals such as Provena determine what information will be available on the workstations, Querio says. Users, for example, can click on the hospital’s web site at any time to get information about employment and support groups, and to receive patient information on topics such as how to care for a new baby, Bohrer says.
Hospitals also can offer "way-finding" software on the workstations, which can help users maneuver around health care facilities, Bohrer says. "The hospitals have to provide the software, but the units are set to accommodate it."
eKiosks is talking with health care facilities about placing insurance information on the site, Querio says. "Patients could use the site to see if the hospital accepts their insurance and what kind of benefits they have."
eKiosks offers the first 10 minutes of Internet usage free because it finds various companies that want to advertise to the health care industry, Querio says. Diaper companies Huggies or Pampers, for example, might want to appeal to new parents.