On Jan. 8 at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, HealthSpot has launched a walk-in telehealth station that will allow patients to take medical readings and communicate remotely with a doctor.
The HealthSpot Station allows board-certified doctors to conduct remote diagnosis and treatment using high-definition videoconferencing and digital medical devices.
Pharmacies are a natural fit for the HealthSpot Station since people already head there to fill prescriptions, Steve Cashman, HealthSpot CEO and founder, told eWEEK. Founded in October 2010, HealthSpot plans to roll out the kiosks to several retail pharmacies throughout 2013.
A medical assistant helps patients by taking their blood pressure and setting up the telehealth session in the kiosk. The assistant can also determine if an in-person physician is necessary based on the patient's condition.
With its telehealth kiosk, HealthSpot is trying to build the "iPhone of health care," said Cashman.
The HealthSpot Station features built-in medical devices to help patients relay vital signs to doctors. A system classified as a Medical Device Data System by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sends audio and video pictures to a doctor. The HealthSpot Station incorporates a scale in the floor to record weight, and a thermometer sits behind one door. The kiosk also includes a dermascope to allow doctors to remotely view rashes and skin conditions as well as the back of the throat or eye.
In addition, an otoscope provides a high-resolution onscreen view of inside the ear. Meanwhile, the HealthSpot Station's stethoscope offers digital sounds of the heart and lungs, and a pulse oximeter captures the patient's pulse and monitors blood oxygen saturation.
The large amount of medical devices in the kiosk could distinguish this telehealth platform from online services patients use at home, Cashman suggested.
"Really the big difference is we've incorporated a lot of medical device technology that's just not yet affordable in the home for the online people, so that's a big part of the wow factor," Cashman said.
HealthSpot has begun pilots in Ohio and additional pilot locations will begin using the unit in the first quarter of 2013.
In addition to pharmacies, HealthSpot also aims to install the telehealth station in grocery stores, urgent care facilities, rural areas, college campuses and military bases. Installing them in doctors' offices could allow specialists to see patients remotely.
HealthSpot's software in the kiosk maintains an electronic health record and electronic prescription data for doctors to access. It also allows patients to book future appointments with doctors.
Patients can also schedule HealthSpot sessions through a mobile app.
HealthSpot is working with health insurance companies to cover the telehealth sessions like office visits, according to the company. If a patient is uninsured, the HealthSpot sessions will cost $59-$79, a more affordable option than traditional health clinics or urgent care centers, the company noted.
Fifteen states now offer insurance reimbursement for telehealth, according to HealthSpot. In addition, 12 states permit electronic prescriptions. Consumers may turn to alternative methods of treatment such as telehealth as health-care costs rise and a physician shortage occurs, according to Cashman.
"We can wire doctors in the community and make them more efficient with the physician shortage we face," said Cashman.
HealthSpot plans to announce retail pharmacy partners later in the first quarter.
In addition, on Jan. 9 HealthSpot announced that Teladoc, another telehealth service, would offer the HealthSpot Station to its customers, which include employers, health plans, health systems and patients. Teladoc offers phone or video consultations with doctors along with a free electronic health record.
On Jan. 8 HealthSpot also announced a multiphase project with Miami Children's Hospital to offer telehealth technology. The hospital's Global Telehealth Command Center will use the HealthSpot Station to allow children and parents to consult with pediatric specialists and receive e-prescriptions.