Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Kiosk-Based "Office" Extends Reach of Health Services Providers

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Kiosk-Based "Office" Extends Reach of Health Services Providers

Article excerpt

While telehealth technology has already extended the reach and availability of several types of behavioral health services - psychiatry, psychotherapy, or counseling, to name a few - patients who require a more "hands on" approach to diagnosis and treatment must still call ahead to schedule an office visit, or wait their turn at a more costly urgent care site or hospital emergency department.

But this limited paradigm of telehealthcare might well change soon thanks to private, walk-in medical kiosks that combine conventional provider-to-patient telecommunications with an array of medical and diagnostic tools as well as a digital record of care. Two companies, HealthSpot (Columbus, Ohio) and Computerized Screening, Inc. (CSI - Reno, Nev.), are emblematic of this trend, which offers the promise of expanded and better integrated medical and behavioral health service access in a variety of locations.

The goal of these compact, ADA- and HIPAA-compliant telehealth kiosks is to deliver care more quickly, conveniently, and cost-effectively to those patients who "have a cold or a sore throat, a behavioral health concern, a chronic health problem, or maybe a question about medications," says Steve Cashman, CEO of HealthSpot.

Many such interactions can now be handled using kiosks, which can be located in hospitals, behavioral healthcare facilities, long-term care facilities, corporate offices, or even retail sites such as pharmacies. The health professional who appears on the other side of the screen could be any kind of specialist-a dermatologist, ENT physician, primary care doctor, or a behavioral health provider.

How it works

According to Cashman, there are multiple ways for an individual to set up a visit to a HealthSpot kiosk. Patients may call ahead, go online, or simply walk in to a location and meet with a trained attendant to begin. The medical attendant then collects the co-pay, directs the patient into the unit, and launches the session. Patients can create and access their own personal health record by logging in using a PIN, a phone number, a fingerprint scan, or other means of personal identification. For both HealthSpot and CSI kiosks, the visit begins with questions about the patients symptoms, a determination about the professional or specialist required, and insurance or payment requirements. HealthSpot allows individuals to choose the first available provider, or to scan all available providers and choose a particular one.

Patients are asked to take their own vital signs, using a range of medical instruments in the kiosk and their data is uploaded to the cloud. If a physician visit is requested, the doctor or clinician appears on the screen, accesses the patients available records and vital signs, and proceeds with the patients assessment, care, or therapy.

The medical instruments available in kiosks may be customized based on the needs of the location, and are generally used by the patient according to on-screen instructions. These may include:

* Automatic weight and height measurement.

* An otoscope for observation of ears, nose, or throat, with images provided to the provider, who can capture, annotate, and display the images to the patient.

* A dermascope for close examination of skin or skin conditions.

* An automatic blood pressure cuff.

* A pulse oximeter that allows examination of pulse rate, heartbeat, and blood oxygen level. …

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