Sprint and remote health management provider Ideal Life have introduced wireless touch-screen kiosks to help patients track their health and wellness.
Wireless machine to machine (M2M) technology allows patients to send vital health data to doctors using various mobile monitoring devices other than smartphones. The cloud-based kiosks run on Sprint's 3G network.
Ideal Life already offers wired kiosks in hospitals, community centers and employee wellness programs. It also makes remote-monitoring devices to manage conditions such as congestive heart failure (CHF), diabetes, asthma and obesity.
The company plans to place the new wireless kiosks in libraries, schools, clinics and doctor's offices as well as community health centers such as assisted living facilities.
Large corporations are interested in acquiring the kiosks for their employee wellness programs, according to Kelly Robinson, manager for M2M marketing programs in the Emerging Solutions Group at Sprint.
Pharmacies may also have a use for the kiosks, since they're already offering flu shots, she said. The kiosks will allow pharmacies to store and transmit additional data on patients. "Now this just takes it to the next level, and gets info uploaded to your record that's unique and private," Robinson told eWEEK.
Although pharmacies have featured health-management devices such as Ideal Life's before, the ability to send data in the cloud is new, Steve Wheeler, general manager for Ideal Life, told eWEEK. "There have been blood pressure machines in drugstores forever, but data never went anywhere," he said.
Sprint and Ideal Life announced the wireless kiosks at the CTIA Wireless conference in San Diego on Oct. 11.
By keeping track of blood pressure, weight, blood glucose levels and other biometric readings and submitting the data to doctors for their review, the kiosks could allow patients to prevent health crises and save money on health care exams and hospitalization, according to Wheeler.
"The goal of these products is to keep people in the home longer and keep the costs down as low as possible," Robinson said.
If a patient experienced a sudden weight gain or blood pressure climbed, the kiosk could record the data and send it to a physician or hospital ER department for quick decisions on care, she noted.
Once entered into the kiosk, patients or doctors can upload data to electronic health records (EHRs).
"The key is it's not a stand-alone kiosk," Wheeler said. "Data is going up to the Web."
Data is transferred into Ideal Life's collaborative care software, which features a built-in algorithm to help physicians analyze the information, Wheeler said. The algorithm also analyzes abnormal readings such as high blood pressure and asks patients questions such as, "Did you take your medication?" or "Did you exercise?" he explained.
In a recent Ideal Life study, 200 patients with CHF were able to reduce the cost for hospital admissions from $1.26 million to $540,000 when they used Ideal Life's remote-monitoring system, the company reports.
Meanwhile, 88 percent of doctors would like patients to be able to monitor their health independently, according to a report by the Health Research Institute at PwC.
Remote-monitoring devices are among the diverse mobile products the health care industry will need to support to accommodate workers' diverse communication needs, according to a recent report by research firm Frost & Sullivan.
The wireless component of the kiosks will allow hospitals to place the devices in areas that lack Internet access, Wheeler said.
Although the kiosks now work on 3G with no patient video capability, they will eventually work on 4G with video functionality, Wheeler said. The kiosks currently run educational videos tied to specific conditions such as hypertension, he added.