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Booking a doctor's appointment online is an everyday convenience for members of Kaiser Permanente of Colorado. For non-urgent matters -- lab results from yesterday's tests, or finding out whether a prescription causes headaches -- the HMO's patients can link into its nurse or pharmacist areas and get answers within 24 hours.

Since "KPOnline" went live 18 months ago, some 12,000 of Colorado's 362,000 members of Kaiser have used it to schedule appointments, seek advice, look up health information or participate in discussion groups.

"The service could reduce the number of personal phone calls, and allow employees to take care of health concerns in the privacy of their (workplace) cubicles," suggests Marilyn Starrett, project manager for Kaiser Permanente's Web presence.

She predicts that employers will see increasing advantages to such Web-based services as time goes on.

For Dianne Jordan, human resources manager of the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, KPOnline was a significant factor in the authority's decision to offer Kaiser's plan. "I'm setting up an intranet with a link to enable my employees to jump out to Kaiser Permanente's Web site to make their appointments and get health information," she said. As a member herself, Jordan appreciates how the Internet component blends speed and convenience with a personal touch.

"I made an appointment online," she said, "and was thrilled to get a personal confirmation by phone."

About 3000 Kaiser members statewide have tapped the massive drug, health and wellness encyclopedias that are available on the site. "One...

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