Medicare help dispensed with light touch Interactive kiosk set up at Westminster center

March 16, 1997|By Jennifer Vick | Jennifer Vick,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Information about Medicare is available to county senior citizens through an interactive touch-the-screen kiosk in the lobby of the Westminster Senior Center.

The free service is on loan from the Trailblazer Health Enterprises Inc., a Hunt Valley company hired to run state Medicare programs. The kiosk will remain at the Westminster Senior Center for three to six months.

"We felt it was a great opportunity to put it [the kiosk] here at the Carroll County center," said Susan Cronin, coordinator for the Carroll County Senior Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program. "It is the only Medicare kiosk east of the Mississippi."

The kiosk is preprogrammed and simply requires users to "touch the screen and visually see the information" said Barbara Mullican, Medicaid education coordinator for Trailblazer Health Enterprises.

The Medicare Information Center gives an audio presentation of Medicare subjects, prints information if requested and is close-captioned for the hearing impaired. Some of the subjects covered are Medicare services, filing, claiming and payment.

Two Medicare videos can be viewed. One is a take on "Forrest Gump" in which an actor, portrayed as Horace Trump, sits at a bus stop recalling what his mama told him about Medicare. Trump also pays a visit to a participating doctor in the Medicare program.

The second video has actors visiting non-Medicare doctors, and depicts situations of fraud and abuse.

Leonard Detweiller, 79, was among the 11 people who attended the kiosk demonstration Monday. He said the clear, colorful pictures make learning about Medicare "less frightening."

"It is more acceptable and easy for someone like me," Detweiller said.

The kiosk is also a valuable learning tool for people who may have a relative on Medicare and are unfamiliar with how the system works.

The ability to gather statistics on the number of visitors who seek information on each electronic page is helpful for Medicare professionals, Mullican said. The system's software also allows for modification to accommodate new information, she said.

Cronin's job at Westminster Senior Center is to help seniors understand their health insurance options. She hopes the kiosk will eliminate repetitive questions.

Detweiller, a Westminster resident who regularly stops in to see Cronin, learned at the demonstration that ambulance service is covered by Medicare, something he didn't know.

"Unless you work in the field [of Medicare]," he said, "the complexity of it is unbelievable."

Information: 848-4049.

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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