Video kiosks may cure some healthcare ills

By Vishal Brown / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
June 13, 2014


As healthcare problems rise to unprecedented levels, video kiosks are becoming an increasingly important part of the solution.

They say it’s unwise to argue over religion and politics because both topics deal with highly personal matters, and there are many polarizing viewpoints. Healthcare could easily qualify as a viable third category to the list. Not only does healthcare deal with a highly personal topic — our health — there’s a lot polarizing views regarding how we need to fix healthcare in America.

One reason healthcare may not be added to the above list, however, is that while religious and political disputes are arguably best resolved through avoidance, communication challenges are at the very core of healthcare’s problems. In fact, one of the major complaints with healthcare today is that it takes so long to get an appointment with a specialist. If that weren’t enough, then there’s the drive time required to get to and from the appointment, and the best part of all: the wait. A 15-minute exam can easily consume two hours of the patient's time with commuting and wait times.

Nowadays, there are solutions to such problems.

In today’s society where digital communication channels are constantly evolving and smart mobile devices are changing the way we connect, the former standard for great customer experience — the in-person visit — often can be matched (and even surpassed) by video conferencing and collaboration solutions.

The Cleveland Clinic is a good real-world example that illustrates this point. In May 2013, the clinic launched a one-year pilot of video kiosk stations in three of its family health centers. Each station features a two-way high-definition video screen that delivers a face-to-face experience between the patient and medical provider. 

Patients can conveniently walk up to a station without scheduling an appointment. After discussing their medical symptoms with a physician, the physician can guide the patient to use one of an array of digital medical devices embedded in each station (e.g. stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and/or thermometer). The information from the medical devices is streamed to the physician in real time and a number of common health conditions can be treated on the spot. The video kiosks are also integrated with Cleveland Clinic’s electronic medical records, which further enhances the quality of care.

After completing the one-year pilot, the Cleveland Clinic reported that the video kiosk stations received overall patient satisfaction scores of 93%.

While this example is impressive, it shouldn’t be surprising. Products such as video kiosks enable patients to contact physicians without having to travel, while maintaining the benefits of a private, live meeting. Video kiosks also deliver high quality video for natural interaction and incorporate secure information exchange. As a result, customers feel valued with this type of service. 

Video kiosks also are regionally distributed at offices or public locations convenient to customers, such as grocery stores or pharmacies. This access is important because consumers simply do not have the time or patience to wait on hold or fumble through clunky IVR (interactive voice response) systems.

At a time where office wait times are getting longer and copays and insurance deductibles are growing, video kiosk stations represent a welcomed change – and a positive solution – that’s hard for anyone to dispute, no matter what their views are on the state of healthcare.

Brown is vice president of professional services for Yorktel, a provider of cloud and video managed services.


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