New generation of private telemedicine kiosks are popping up at Kaiser Permanente, Rite Aid pharmacies, giving pathology groups opportunities to do consultations
Coming soon to a pharmacy, school, retail store, or employer near you is a new generation of walk-in telemedicine kiosks. These kiosks are specifically designed to allow consumers to have private medical consultations with physicians. For that reason, pathologists and their medical specialty associations may find it timely to engage the company offering these kiosks with the goal of incorporating pathology consultations in the service mix offered by this new generation of telemedicine kiosks.
No less than the famous Mayo Clinic has become the latest healthcare provider to partner with HealthSpot, the company that designed this new telemedicine kiosk. This pilot program will be called the Mayo Clinical Health Connection and Mayo Clinic is placing these kiosks in its facilities in Austin and Albert Lea, Minnesota, specifically for use by employees of the Mayo Clinical Health System. Mayo officials hope that the use of these kiosks will contribute to reduced healthcare costs and improved access to medical services.
In a parallel pilot project, Mayo Clinic is placing its Mayo Clinic Health Connection kiosks in public schools in Austin, Minnesota. Plans are to eventually offer the service at university, employer, and retailer locations.
Minnesota Pilot Offers Austin School Employees Virtual Access to Mayo Doctors
The first kiosk, a private 8-foot-by-7-foot enclosure, was placed in Ellis Middle School in February 2015. Other school locations may follow. The 40-square-foot, fully enclosed HealthSpot station provides high-definition video conferencing that allows school staff to interact with clinicians at Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System for consults on minor health issues, such as cold, earaches, sore throat, sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, rashes, and skin and eye conditions, according to a HealthSpot press release. The fee for a physician consult via the kiosk is nominal for an average 15-minute visit, insurance is accepted, and no appointment is necessary.
Mayo to Expand HealthSpot Access to Employer, University, and Retail Locations
In announcing the pilot, Mark Ciota, M.D., CEO at Mayo Clinic Health System said he expects HealthSpot to “decrease absenteeism, lower costs, and increase wellness,” which he believes is a “win-win” for both employees and employers.
“We are excited to offer innovative health care technology locally and to leverage resources across our system to better serve our patients,” added Matt Bernard, M.D., Chair Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic. “The goal is to provide accessible and fast healthcare while at the same time reducing costs,” Bernard said, in the HealthSpot press release.
HealthSpot Introduces Telemedicine Kiosk Service to Nationwide Pharmacy Chains
HealthSpot has also partnered with Cleveland Clinic and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD), a leading pharmacy chain that operates nearly 4,600 stores nationwide, to pilot the HealthSpot station in Ohio Rite Aid stores. Dark Daily reported on this announcement in “Rite Aid’s New Telemedicine Kiosks in Select Ohio Pharmacies Allow Customers to Consult with Physicians for a Nominal Fee,” (Dark Daily, April 3, 2015).
In that article, Rite Aid Executive Vice President of Pharmacy Robert I. Thompson expressed seeing telehealth kiosks as a logical next step in healthcare’s development. “Adding HealthSpot stations serves as a natural extension of our existing suite of health and wellness services and offers people an alternative solution to accessing quality healthcare in a familiar, professional, and convenient setting,” he said in a HealthSpot press release announcing the piloting of HealthSpot kiosks at Rite Aid Pharmacy locations around the greater Akron/Canton, Cleveland, and Dayton/Springfield markets.
Telemedicine: A Future Leader in Healthcare Delivery
According to several other HealthSpot press releases, the company is also providing kiosk access onsite to employees of one of San Diego-based Kaiser Permanente’s key clients. And CareSource, an Ohio-based non-profit, managed-care provider, has enabled its Medicaid patients, as well as members of its low-cost Just4Me health plan, to access HealthSpot kiosks at various retail pharmacies in Ohio.
Additionally, a Florida Blue press release announced that this insurer has partnered with HealthSpot to install a kiosk at a Miami retail location to provide pediatric members access to Miami Children’s Hospital physicians.
Pathologists Could Find Revenue Opportunities with HealthSpot
Will telemedicine kiosks find a place in the delivery of healthcare? The numerous examples provided above show that a variety of credible healthcare organizations and health corporations are willing to do pilot projects with the HealthSpot kiosks. If Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, and Rite Aid Pharmacies, to name a few, like the outcomes from consumer use of a private telemedicine kiosks, then it can be expected that other healthcare providers and retail pharmacy chains will also jump on this bandwagon.
Therefore, there are questions the pathology profession should ask. First, should pathology consultations—for both clinical laboratory testing and surgical pathology services—be an essential part of a telemedicine kiosk service? Second, when is the right time for leaders in the pathology profession to engage HealthSpot and other companies selling similar telemedicine kiosks to initiate discussions on how to add pathology services to the menu of telemedicine services available to users of these kiosks?
As HealthSpot builds its network of board-certified physicians and expands the service nationally, pathology groups who are interested might find that these and other kiosk-based health delivery platforms offer revenue and clinical laboratory referral opportunities.