Teladoc announced Wednesday that it agreed in principle to a partnership with HealthSpot to develop walk-in kiosks that provide medical diagnostics. The kiosks, known as HealthSpot Stations, will have technology to help doctors diagnose medical problems without an office visit. The kiosks are designed to accommodate the busy lifestyles of patients and provide another way for them to receive non-emergency care.
Based in Dallas, TX, Teladoc provides non-emergency care 24 hours a day through phone or video sessions to patients using board-certified physicians. HealthSpot, based in Dublin, OH, is a healthcare technology company that develops solutions to make treatment more accessible. Both companies are active in the growing telehealth industry, where healthcare services are provided remotely through video and telecommunications technologies from a board-certified physician.
Patients will be able to use the kiosks in places like pharmacies, grocery stores and urgent care facilities and can schedule sessions through a mobile phone. College students, military personnel and people living in more remote or underdeveloped areas are also potential users. Even prisons could use the kiosks to provide treatment to inmates.
A variety of advanced electronics and technologies reside inside the kiosk. A touchscreen, two-way video monitor and audio system allow communication between patient and doctor. Numerous medical instruments installed inside the kiosk include a scale, thermometer, otoscope, dermascope, stethoscope and pulse oximiter. These devices, combined with electronic health records, give remote doctors the information they need to treat patients. Upon completion of the visit, the patient’s records are updated electronically. All data sent electronically travels through secure, HIPAA-compliant connections.
The kiosks are staffed by a medical assistant, who assists patients during their sessions by performing tasks like taking blood pressure and determining if the patient needs to visit a physician in person. Cleaning the kiosk and its devices is a combination of manual and automatic processes.
HealthSpot Stations are not meant to be a replacement for the family physician, but they can help patients for non-emergency conditions and receive treatment after hours or in circumstances where visiting the doctor is not possible. Doctors assisting patients through the kiosk can write prescriptions as long as they are not for controlled substances.
HealthSpot has already setup several kiosks at various locations in Ohio for preliminary testing. A larger rollout is planned after the first quarter of 2013.
The concept of telehealth was designed to address many problems patients deal with when seeking medical treatment: long waits in the doctor’s office; needing a doctor after hours; not having enough time to make an appointment for an office and living far from a clinic or care facility.
Solutions like the HealthSpot Station fill a void that neither a regular in-person provider nor a tele-provider by phone or video alone can fill. Knowing whether or not these kiosks can ease an overburdened healthcare system is a matter that only testing and going live on a large scale can determine. It appears that both Teladoc and HealthSpot have taken the steps to be compliant with HIPAA and medical boards before rolling out the kiosks. According to HealthSpot, 15 states provide insurance coverage for telehealth, so to some extent that issue has also been addressed. If the HealthSpot Station can live up to its claims, the effects would be revolutionary. It would significantly change the way we view healthcare.
Edited by Brooke Neuman