Telemedicine Continues to Transform Healthcare (Part 2 of 2): Care in a Kiosk

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We’ve all seen kiosks in our local malls and shopping arenas. They’re used by businesses to sell basically anything, from food to novelty items to cosmetic products.  But what if they could be used for something more than pure capitalism? What if they could be used to improve the healthcare of a nation?

This is exactly the potential that was envisioned by HealthSpot, a technology firm in Dublin, Ohio, who saw an opportunity to expand telemedicine into the kiosk, Doug Desjardins reports in the May 2013 issue of Medicine on the Net.

The firm first presented its eight-foot by five-foot enclosed HealthSpot Station kiosk at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The HealthSpot Station kiosk is “equipped with a touch-screen monitor, audio system, and high-definition TV screens, allowing patients to conduct a virtual visit with a physician.”

For over a year, the kiosk had been tested throughout Ohio with such prestigious partners as The Cleveland Clinic and the University Hospitals health network, as well as with 400 patients and 15 patients through Central Ohio Primary Care.

Lisa Maughan, vice president of marketing for HealthSpot, recalled, “Every pilot program was different. University Hospitals used the kiosks as part of a triage program to divert patients who didn’t require emergency care away from their ERs. The Cleveland Clinic tested them in two of their Express Care urgent care clinics. But all of them had the same goals in mind of driving down costs while providing a new access point for care.”

With the success of its pilot programs, HealthSpot is looking to expand beyond Ohio, and other companies are eager to sign on, such as telemedicine company Teladoc, whose focus will be on using the kiosks with board-certified physicians, and Miami Children’s Hospital, who wants to use the kiosks to provide pediatric specialists for children and families at 10 different locations not just in Florida, but also in the Caribbean.

HealthSpot founder and CEO Steve Cashman passionately believes the kiosk is a meeting point for two of the major healthcare conundrums of the day: technology and convenience. He said, “HealthSpot has built a solution that merges technology with convenience in patient care. Our innovation utilizes today’s technology combined with modern medicine to diagnose and treat patients in ways that are affordable, convenient, and effective.”

As the rollout of these kiosks advances, HealthSpot plans to zero in on non-clinical setting such as grocery stores and business parks. Desjardins writes that these “kiosks for nonmedical settings will have a standard consultation fee and a set of conditions that physicians will diagnose and treat.”

The business model for this phase of the rollout will be modeled after Redbox, Maughan said. “With retailers, we’re probably looking at a situation where we’ll lease space in a store and share a percentage of the profits with them.”

What are your thoughts on these kiosks? Do you think HealthSpot’s ambitions represent a potentially positive and effective advancement of healthcare to the public?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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