Time Warner Cable Business Class has fired up the first trial of its Healthcare Solutions platform in Maine.

Because of their managed, private, fiber-based networks, the health care sector is a growing opportunity for cable operators. Cablevision has been proactive in working with health care providers in its New York metropolitan footprint, but the Maine trial marks the first time Time Warner Cable has offered its Healthcare Solutions platform.

Time Warner Cable Business ClassA spokesman for Time Warner Cable said the company would announce additional Healthcare Solution markets in the coming weeks and months.

Time Warner Cable's Healthcare Solutions includes Cisco Webex Web conferencing – via the cable operator's managed IP VPN – for real-time collaboration and video conversations. Time Warner Cable's managed IP VPN is private and separate from the public Internet, which enables health care providers to comply with HIPAA and HITECH privacy requirements when connecting to other provider sites, or Time Warner Cable's private health care cloud, for access to managed health care applications.

The managed IP VPN service is offered with dedicated customer premises equipment and private addressing space. Time Warner Cable said the network is proactively monitored for optimal performance and reliability.

The managed IP VPN lets customers access managed health care applications hosted in Time Warner Cable Business Class' health care cloud, including the Cisco WebEx Web conferencing, while providing a secure connection to the state's Health Information Exchange, where they can access their patients' history.

Other features include metro Ethernet offerings, dedicated Internet access, broadband Internet access and primary rate interface (PRI) for simultaneous voice calls.

In the future, Time Warner Cable Business Class plans to offer home health monitoring, which will provide end-to-end services for collecting, storing and presenting biometric data collected through personal health monitoring devices in a patient's home.

"There is increasing acknowledgement that tele-health will play a significant role in medicine as health care costs and access to care continue to be growing concerns," said Robert Moel, group vice president of Healthcare Solutions for Time Warner Cable. "Our Healthcare Solutions delivered over Time Warner Cable's private, secure connection makes it easier, faster, safer and cheaper for doctors to consult with each other, communicate with and monitor their patients, and deliver a better overall patient experience."

To trial this service, Time Warner Cable Business Class partnered with health care providers in Maine, including InterMed – a multi-specialty health care organization in Portland, south Portland and Yarmouth – and Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

Healthcare Solutions allows a doctor to conduct a wellness visit with a patient that has trouble going to a doctor's office. One physician currently participating in the trial of Healthcare Solutions is Dr. Scott Patch, a family physician with InterMed in Yarmouth. Patch said Healthcare Solutions allowed doctors to more effectively manage patients with chronic diseases, while making it more convenient and cheaper for patients – particularly the elderly – seeking medical care.

"One of my patients is over 90 years old, and she can't leave the house," Patch said. "With Time Warner Cable's Healthcare Solutions secure technology I can conduct a private appointment with her over the computer and discuss her care with her family without forcing her to get into a car and drive an hour for an office visit. From a patient's perspective, it's an added convenience that could potentially decrease their health care costs."

On a macro level, in Maine, Healthcare Solutions provides a secure connection to the state Health Information Exchange (HIE) offered by HealthInfoNet. Health Information Exchange is a secure electronic network where health care providers can share medical information on their patients.

"We're pleased to partner with Time Warner Cable on this new product. HealthInfoNet must ensure all healthcare providers connect to the Health Information Exchange over a private and secure broadband connection. The Managed IP VPN product provides health care organizations access to a secure network without the hassle and cost of managing it themselves," said Devore Culver, executive director and CEO of HealthInfoNet.