One company is attempting to usher in a new era of retail clinics by leveraging digital medical devices and the cloud to connect patients to providers in a convenient setting.
Retail healthcare has largely meant the ability of consumers suffering a minor ailment to walk into the likes of Target, CVS and Walgreen and get a diagnosis and prescription by experienced nurse practitioners.
One company that has been attempting to turn that model on its head is HealthSpot, a telehealth startup that is seeking to bring the expertise of board certified providers into the retail clinic. It does so by leveraging digital medical devices inside a kiosk that uses videoconferencing capability and the cloud to connect patients to physicians.
Each HealthSpot station contains interactive medical devices including a stethoscope, an otoscope, a pulse oximeter and a magnascope. About 40 square-foot in size, the units are manned by a care attendant who can help patients and troubleshoot if technological or other problems surface.
On Monday, the Dublin, Ohio startup announced that it is teaming up with Rite Aid such that HealthSpot stations in 25 Rite Aid locations in Ohio will be able to access physicians from Cleveland Clinic, Kettering Health Network and University Hospitals, including pediatric specialists from UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, that are part of HealthSpot's Care Network. The partnership with Rite Aid was announced in November.
"The opening of the first HealthSpot stations inside select Rite Aid pharmacies in Ohio is another step in our transformation into retail healthcare company," said Robert I. Thompson, Rite Aid's executive vice president of pharmacy, in a news release. "This first-of-its-kind model pairs licensed healthcare providers with state-of-the-art technology to deliver a truly unique solution to consumers looking for convenient and quality healthcare. We are excited to be bringing such an innovative concept to market and look forward to introducing our customers to HealthSpot."
The first part of Thompson's comment is notable.
Device companies, pharma companies, hospitals, health systems, insurance companies and many other healthcare stakeholders are all deeply interested in broadening their role in the continuum of care. The pilot with HealthSpot allows a retail pharmacy like Rite Aid to not simply participate in filling a consumer's prescription but also provide an avenue where it can facilitate even a 3-year-old to receive care quickly and effectively.
The news release states that kids aged at least 3-years may be treated for common ailments including cold and flu, rashes and skin conditions, eye conditions, earaches and seasonal allergies. The kiosk keeps a records the of the visit for every person using it, thereby allowing seamless communication and continuity of care. HealthSpot's FDA-cleared software platform can also interface with insurance eligibility, electronic medical records and billing systems.
"Telehealth is a key driver in the revolution of our healthcare delivery system. HealthSpot brings together a set of unique technologies, devices and local healthcare providers to create a one-of-a-kind healthcare experience," said Steve Cashman, HealthSpot CEO, in the news release announcing the pilot with Rite Aid. "We are thrilled to be working with Rite Aid to pilot this new healthcare model as the first retail clinic truly integrated with local health systems to expand access to affordable and convenient healthcare in Ohio."
The model is novel and how well it works wil largely be determined by patient satisfaction. HealthSpot has made some notable partnerships with the likes of Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and now on the retail pharmacy side.
Technology is essentially helping set healthcare free.
[Photo Courtesy of HealthSpot]
Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @aparmarbb