In southeastern Minnesota, the residents of little Winona are being besieged by messages from the future. On the radio and in newspapers, on billboards and handouts, the town's approximately 27,000 residents are being exhorted to join a pilot program that will put their individual health management information online. Going well beyond mere E-mail communication between physician and patient, the Winona Health Online1 project foreshadows a not-too-distant time when many Americans will have personalized health details at their fingertips in an electronic format.

"I think people will be demanding this more and more within three years," predicts David Sides, director of implementations for IQHealth, a division of Kansas City-based Cerner Corp., which is a leading provider of electronic health management systems. IQHealth is running the pilot program in partnership with Winona organizations that spearheaded a local Internet access drive in the early 1990s. As a result, 60 percent of...

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