Southwest Medical Associates Initiates New 'My SMA Health Online'

Tue Feb 5, 2008 2:31pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Patients Set, Change Own Appointments, Renew Medications and View
                            Medical Records
LAS VEGAS--(Business Wire)--
Southwest Medical Associates (SMA), a wholly owned subsidiary of
Sierra Health Services, Inc. (NYSE: SIE), announced the second phase
in an industry-leading initiative to provide paperless, electronic
access to medical information and services: "My SMA Health Online."

   "My SMA Health Online" improves the patient experience by giving
SMA customers 24/7, touch-of-a-finger access to communications with
their medical providers. Now SMA patients with e-mail accounts can:

   --  Schedule, change or cancel primary care and pediatric doctor
        appointments

   --  View their medical records and test results

   --  Request prescription renewals from their physicians

   --  Receive e-mail confirmations on appointments

   --  Set up and use a new account in real time

   --  Manage and update personal and account information

   --  View outstanding payment balances

   --  Authorize others to schedule appointments online on their
        behalf

   --  Receive e-mail alerts and notifications regarding certain
        account activity.

   In 2003, Sierra Health Services' Southwest Medical Associates
became one of the industry's first to utilize technology to create a
paperless physicians' electronic prescribing system and allow online
patient access to medical records. "My SMA Health Online" is the
second phase of that initiative to make access to medical services and
information better, faster and easier.

   "Our adoption of e-prescribing has proven to be an excellent
investment in improving patient satisfaction and the quality of care
delivered at SMA," said Jonathon Bunker, president, Sierra Health
Services. "This new Web portal is our continued response to meeting
the needs of our patients and to allow them greater control in and
access to their medical care."

   Prior to the online system, patient call volume at SMA's Call
Center exceeded 150,000 calls per month. Additionally, an estimated
100,000 calls were managed at the clinic level. Calls and interactions
ranged from simple provider appointments to requests for prescription
refills and test results. Years of data on patient requests for
information in the electronic medical records and patient management
systems resulted in the plans for a Web-based, patient self-service
system. The goal was to remove or reduce caller wait time and
frustration in order to increase customer satisfaction by providing a
convenient, automated alternative to telephone service for more
routine requests.

   Using additional input from focus groups and SMA physicians,
Sierra Health Services' information technology developers designed a
Web site that is easy to understand and navigate even for new Internet
users. The initial pilot was released in spring of 2007. To ensure
consumers' privacy and HIPAA compliance, the "My SMA Health Online"
web portal was developed on HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol over
Secure Socket Layer) standard, and will be subject to monthly internal
and third-party intrusion detection scans. All data is secured behind
a corporate firewall.

   To date, over 11,000 patients have already established and used
their accounts. "My SMA Health Online" users quickly exhibited a
preference on the site -- over 30,000 "hits" or visits have been made
to the medical records link since the new system went live.

   According to Dr. Craig Morrow, SMA Medical Director, he's gotten
positive feedback from his patients who have used "My SMA Health
Online:" "Patients who've used the system like the fact that it is so
uncomplicated and easy to use. We've experienced a reduction in calls
in our office, mainly because patients don't have to wait to get their
test results. This also reduces the time we usually spend with
patients answering questions about their EKG or cholesterol count.
They already know this when they come in for a follow-up appointment,
so the dialogue is more focused."

   With the success of the first phase of "My SMA Health Online," the
information systems developers and healthcare providers are continuing
rollout of the site's capabilities. SMA Web users will soon be able to
pay bills online; schedule appointments with specialists; access test
and procedure preparations and precautions; check prior authorization
and referral status; and receive annual exam e-mail reminders. A
Spanish-language version of "My SMA Health Online" is also in
development.

   Sierra Health Services, Inc., based in Las Vegas, is a diversified
healthcare services company that operates health maintenance
organizations, indemnity insurers, preferred provider organizations,
prescription drug plans and a multi-specialty medical group. Sierra's
subsidiaries serve over 860,000 people through health benefit plans
for employers, government programs and individuals. Southwest Medical
Associates is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra and operates 14
medical clinics throughout Las Vegas, including several urgent care
centers and an outpatient surgery center. The clinics are staffed by
approximately 250 physicians and physician extenders. For more
information on Sierra Health Services and its subsidiaries, visit the
Company's website at www.sierrahealth.com.

Sierra Health Services, Inc., Las Vegas
Amanda Penn, 702-242-7784
amanda.penn@sierrahealth.com

Copyright Business Wire 2008
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