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HealthSpot Full Patient Visit Kiosk at CES

Posted on January 8, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those of you who also read EMR and HIPAA, you know that this week I’ll be attending CES and the Digital Health Summit.

Today I stopped by the convention center and got an early look at the incredible setup that’s going on to make the CES show happen. By all accounts, I expect this to be as big and crazy as any CES show I’ve attended. Plus, I got an early look at the Health Spot kiosk which is stationed in the lobby between the central and north halls of CES. I’m glad I went today, because I’m sure that kiosk is going to be crazy the next 3 days.

With that said, I’d suggest that anyone in healthcare take the chance to stop by the HealthSpot kiosk. HealthSpot is taking on an enormous challenge. They’ve created a kiosk that provides a whole suite of medical tools and an online connection to a remote doctor. It’s a fascinating mix of medical technology to try and make the patient visit a much smoother experience for the patient.
HealthSpot Station
One use case that I found really fascinating is having a HealthSpot kiosk located in a hospital ED. In many cases one hospital ED might have a long line of patients waiting to be seen while their other hospital ED or quick care center across town might be sitting empty. Instead of making the patient wait or get sent across town to be seen, the patients can use the HealthSpot kiosk to be seen by an available doctor in the other hospital’s ED across town. It’s a fascinating use of technology to try and utilize the available medical resources across a health system.

There are a number of other use cases with one of the biggest being in retail pharmacies. Many have already started going to their local pharmacy for shots. It’s not hard to see retail pharmacies supporting some sort of office visit as well. If the price is right and the access to the doctor is more streamlined than your regular office visit, then this could become a common option. Plus, you can imagine that the price will be good since it’s a way for the retail pharmacy to get you as a customer. Once your HealthSpot visit is done, the pharmacy will have your prescription waiting for you before you leave. At least that’s what HealthSpot envisions happening.

Although, that’s really only the beginning of what HealthSpot hopes to achieve. HealthSpot isn’t selling these devices to other organizations. Instead, they still own the HealthSpot kiosks and plan to have a network of HealthSpot kiosks across the nation that are available to patients. In fact, they showed me a mobile app they’re developing that will allow someone to book an appointment with a doctor at a HealthSpot kiosk right from their mobile phone. In many ways it reminded me of how I reserve a RedBox movie from my mobile phone. I choose the movie and then find the nearest RedBox that has that movie. Replace movie with doctor visit and RedBox with HealthSpot and you get the basic idea.

Yes, they do have protocols in the mobile app and the kiosk that are defined by the providers to ensure that the HealthSpot kiosk visits are ones that can be treated through the kiosk interface. For example, I couldn’t book a HealthSpot kiosk visit for chest pain.

It seemed to me that HealthSpot still needed to work on the workflow for office visits that didn’t fit into a HealthSpot kiosk visit. They didn’t have the chest pain option. If I’m really experiencing chest pain, I’m likely to just choose another option if chest pain is not available and just wait until the visit to tell the doctor my real reason for the visit. This seems like an accident waiting to happen. Instead, I think HealthSpot should offer chest pain as an option. Then, if a patient selects it, they get a message to call 911 immediately (or some similar clinical protocol). I expect these types of issues will be worked out as HealthSpot refines the clinical workflows with their beta customers.

One part of HealthSpot that’s hard to describe in a blog post is how the patient kiosk handles the medical devices. First, a medical attendant (similar to an MA or front desk staff I’d assume) is their to assist a patient through the visit as needed. The kiosk has doors that fall open to present various medical devices such as a: Blood Pressure Cuff, Dermascope, Otoscope, Pulse Oximeter, Stethoscope, and Thermometer. Each of the devices is made available to the patient as needed by the doctor who is doing the visit remotely via video for the visit.

This video will also help to demonstrate how the HealthSpot kiosk works:

I’m sure that many are wondering about the cleaning and sanitizing that is provided for the kiosk. After the visit, the medical attendant is provided a check list of items that need to be cleaned, replaced and sanitized. Plus, the kiosk has a UV light that can clean and sanitize the kiosk similar to what is used in surgeries to clean instruments.

Like I said, it’s an experience that’s hard to explain in words. So, stop by the HealthSpot kiosk at CES to see what I mean. I also believe they’ll be at HIMSS in March where you can see it as well.

I’d of course be remiss if I didn’t talk about its connection with EHR software. They don’t plan on having HealthSpot be the full EHR. Instead they plan to integrate HealthSpot data with outside EHR software. Considering how casually they talked about integrating the HealthSpot data into an EHR, I’m pretty sure they haven’t started down that road. Maybe they have some in house expertise that has dealt with the challenge of this before, but I think they’re in for a big surprise as they try to get their HealthSpot data into EHR software. It should be academic, but it certainly is not.

Obviously, there is a lot that goes into the HealthSpot kiosk experience and I’ve only covered a few pieces of it. Like I said, they’ve chosen to take on an enormous challenge. I’ll just point out one other challenge: reimbursement for the visit. I was assured that HealthSpot has talked with all the payers and the payers are looking at the HealthSpot patient visit experience much more like an office visit than a telemedicine visit. We’ll see how that works over time and how the new e-visit laws effect this, but I expect that any changes to e-visit laws will benefit someone like HealthSpot.

The Online Medical Visit … For Free

Posted on January 3, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In every situation online it seems like at some point someone takes the business model as deep as it goes and then someone just finally says, “Let’s make it free.” Readers of this site will be familiar with the leading Free EHR companies Mitochon and Practice Fusion (both advertisers on this site). They both seem to be doing really well and are working on some really interesting business models.

With my familiarity with the Free EHR business model, I was intrigued when I read about HealthTap’s model for basically providing an online medical visit for free. This was particularly interesting since I knew that HealthTap had received $11.5 million in funding recently.

Andy Oram summarizes what HealthTap is trying to solve really well:

In this digital age, HealthTap asks, why should a patient have to make an appointment and drive to the clinic just to find out whether her symptoms are probably caused by a recent medication? And why should a doctor repeat the same advice for each patient when the patient can go online for it?

Plus, he makes two important observations of what HealthTap has found:
1. Doctors will take the time to post information online for free.
2. Doctors are willing to rate each other.

It’s pretty interesting when you think about how many doctors visits could be saved using something like HealthTap. On face, I’d think that a site like this wouldn’t make much sense. Although, as I think back on my medical experiences I can think of about a dozen or so times where I tapped into my physician friends before going to the doctor. Basically, I wanted to know if going to the doctor would be worth my time or not. In about 90% of those cases I ended up not going to the doctor since the doctor wouldn’t have really been able to do much for me anyway.

As I think through these experiences, I realize that many people aren’t lucky enough to be like me and have lots of physician friends around to ask the casual medical question. I could see how HealthTap could fill that role.

One key to this model is that it doesn’t always replace the visit to the physician. In fact, in a few cases I was told that I’d need an X-ray and that I better go see the doctor. In that case I was more likely to go to the physician since I knew I needed to get something done. I already knew the physician would do something for me when I went so I didn’t have the fear that they just tell me to take some Tylenol and be careful with it.

I’m not quite sure if doctors would be glad to actually have only people that are sick visiting their office or not. Maybe they enjoy the break of the easy patient that doesn’t require any effort on their part.

I think there are still questions about the quality of information that patients will get on HealthTap. This is going to be the most interesting issue to follow. No doubt they’re going to be toeing a fine line called medical advice. However, whether it’s HealthTap or some other online source that someone likely finds through Google, people are going to be looking for this kind of health information online. The idea of a free online medical visit sounds good to me.

Let’s also not be surprised if the Free EHR vendors eventually get into online visits as well. Seems like a natural progression for them to offer this service if they wanted to go that direction. From what I understand they have plenty on their plates right now, but a few years from now it could get pretty interesting.

EMR in the Age of Skype

Posted on September 12, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

The physician community has something of a split persona. Doctors are probably the only community still dedicated to using pagers to communicate with their offices. And yet, it’s no secret that the medical establishment is among the fastest growing segment among smartphone and tablet users. A widely quoted statistic from Manhattan Research stated that 81 percent of doctors would own a smartphone. Manhattan now states that the 81 percent rate has already been reached in 2011, while average America is at 40 percent adoption, according to Nielsen.

So, the medical establishment is clearly ahead of the curve in some ways.

But you just have to juxtapose pagers and smartphones against each other to understand the real advantages of the smartphone. If you have an iPhone and your doctor has one too, you’re going to probably take it to the next level, right? Yeah, FaceTime. (Surprisingly enough, that’s not what the statistics show. A full 78 percent of respondents said they didn’t want to chat or IM with their doctors, according to this recent article on Technology Review.)

For this kind of face to face interaction to work, it really depends on how good a rapport you have with your doctor, but if there’s a good doctor-patient relationship, you might just consider making the move. Let’s be clear, doctors are not taking to video-conferencing via Skype or Face-Time in droves (or rather, there are no published statistics from the bean-counting firms about the trend), but there are some anecdotal stories on blogs like Dr. Brian Goldman’s on But it’s interesting to think ahead to how video consultations might change EMR.

The Pros:
Direct connection with your doctor, in an instant: Great for the patient, furthers doctor-patient relationship but could be something of a double-edged sword.
Show, don’t tell: For those times, when you don’t know whether a symptom needs an in-office visit, or when you’re not in town and some conference magic and ePrescribing can save the day.
No more Lost in Translation: The paging process has that additional office staff layer in between, who convey your message to the doctor. It’s tempting to think that you can axe the middleman with Skype.

The Cons:
Direct connection with your doctor, in an instant: How long before patients are calling at all hours of the night demanding FaceTime? Blackberries and iPhones might simply be another way to tether yourself to your business (Next time you see 24-7 IT support, know that there is a person dreading the Blackberry ping somewhere in the world)
Too many interruptions spoil the day: Pagers let the doc put off calling till she’s done with the task at hand, not when the patient demands.
Privacy issues: From an EMR perspective, this is the big kahuna. There are several nuances to consider. The doctor-patient line has to be securely done, with HIPAA in mind. For CYA purposes, video-cons will probably need to be recorded.

Microsoft’s main intent behind its purchase of Skype might be its conferencing features for business, but wouldn’t it be awesome if Skype also showed up in HealthVault (which only has image saving capabilities so far, according to this Q&A on MSDN forums)? Or if any advice dispensed via Skype could be saved into your doc’s EMR system and become part of your health profile. There are several possibilities out there when you throw video into the mix, and they seem quite interesting.