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The doctor is always in

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  By Dr. Amnon Gavish,  April 16, 2013

Video conferencing technology enables instant access to medical help for people anywhere.

Our global healthcare system is overburdened. Medical costs are increasing by the minute. The average person has diminished access to sophisticated medical facilities. And the shortage of physicians and nurses grows by the day. Giving people – wherever they may be – control over their medical needs, in combination with access to top-quality medical attention, will be a requirement in this bifurcated modern healthcare system, in which the divide between haves and have-nots is steadily increasing. Without a doubt, innovation – specifically the abundant promise of telemedicine – will be at the heart of improving the significant healthcare issues our planet faces today and in the decades to come.

Vidyo telehealth technology makes it easy to connect to HealthSpot Stations using desktop devices. Using the high-definition, multipoint video system, physicians can easily share images and data with the patient in real time.

Enter Steve Cashman, founder of HealthSpot, a provider of private, walk-in kiosks that offer patients access to diagnosis and treatment by board-certified doctors via high-definition videoconferencing and interactive digital medical devices. In founding HealthSpot, Cashman was motivated by several ideals: He set out to provide quick, convenient access to reliable and affordable healthcare, accessibility for patients living in rural towns and accessibility for people in urban areas, where population density and overbooked doctors can mean time-consuming and expensive ER visits.

Cashman grew up in a small town in Kansas and studied electrical engineering and business administration at Kansas State University. Before founding HealthSpot, he was the chief strategy officer for Exceptional Innovation, where he led the adoption of the company’s software platform into the healthcare, hospitality, management and energy marketplaces. In short, Cashman is no stranger to telehealth, nor to the significant healthcare challenges faced by rural communities.

HealthSpot is in the business of making healthcare more accessible. Since the company’s inception, the potential of its technology has grown significantly. HealthSpot’s software and technology will bring a range of services into diverse public and private settings, including pharmacies, employer sites, long-term care facilities, universities and schools, hospitals, military facilities, community centers, developing nations, prisons and shopping malls, to name a few. This ensures patients will not have to travel long distances to receive quality care.

In order to make this critical care more effective and deliver on its promise of making healthcare accessible to people everywhere, HealthSpot needed a communications platform that offers high-definition, multipoint video capabilities over general-purpose networks. However, the company found few video conferencing solutions available with those specifications, as most were either extremely costly, being offered on a dedicated network, or low quality with high latency and dropped lines. Dave Sebenoler, HealthSpot’s chief information officer, identified Vidyo to be the best option for HealthSpot, and the collaboration officially kicked off.

Vidyo makes it easy to connect to HealthSpot Stations using desktop devices, thus mitigating the need to invest in special-purpose hardware or technical support. Additionally, the Vidyo platform is compliant with HIPAA guidelines and streamlines HealthSpot’s patient care workflow by saving time spent dealing with patient data and follow-through. HealthSpot Stations can be installed quickly without disrupting infrastructure and business flow, meaning doctors and business owners will avoid undue hassle or disruptions in their customer activity.

“HealthSpot was founded to make affordable, high-quality healthcare services readily available to people in their everyday community settings,” says Cashman. “We worked closely with the healthcare community to understand the real needs of physicians and patients and designed a new generation of kiosk-based telehealth systems. During the design phase, rather than reinvent certain core functionality, we sought out proven, leading-edge technologies to integrate with our systems. Among our top priorities was to provide a secure and consistent, ‘same-room’ experience for every healthcare visit, so we looked for an established, high-quality video conferencing solution that we could integrate today and extend easily as our system evolved in the future.”

The patient is connected with the health provider via Vidyo for a consultation. The provider then reviews recorded vital signs and assesses the patient’s symptoms. The patient may be instructed to use additional devices, such as an otoscope or dermascope, with live video feeds and diagnostic information displayed on patient and provider screens. During the consult, the provider can send an e-prescription to a pharmacy, make a referral for the patient to see a specialist or schedule follow-up visits as needed.

Numerous patients and doctors are using the kiosks to meet their medical needs and patients’ demands. Among those patients is Tiffany Psyhogios, a 44-year-old mother from Columbus, Ohio. Says Psyhogios, who has visited a HealthSpot Station for urgent care, “I showed up at the kiosk not knowing what to expect. The medical attendant was very helpful, and within a few minutes I was inside the kiosk and doing the vital signs self-check. I thought I had a minor sinus infection, but in the process of the remote consultation, the physician identified that the problem was more complex with a high fever and a double ear infection. I used an otoscope attached to the kiosk, and the physician remotely demonstrated how the onscreen image indicated infection. During the visit, he was able to refer me to an internist for immediate follow-up care.”

Among the doctors with early and extensive experience with the HealthSpot Station is Dr. Robert Stone. “The high quality of video and audio in the HealthSpot Station is key to establishing a good doctor-patient relationship,” Stone says. “Without a high level of video conferencing, the interaction would be uncomfortable and unproductive. Particularly in encounters where the doctor and patient are meeting for the first time, it could compromise the relationship and the patient’s confidence in both the healthcare encounter and treatment recommended.

“There’s a growing shortage of physicians, and those who are practicing today understand the increasing need for telehealth solutions to help overcome healthcare access and cost issues. I have had occasion to introduce other physicians to the use of HealthSpot Station, and they are finding it quite efficient and easy to use,” Stone says. “Once they experience the quality of the video communication and the images and data displayed, they see the HealthSpot Station as a viable telehealth solution that will enable them to make an accurate patient assessment and diagnosis. The fact that the physician can easily share images and data with the patient in real time makes it that much easier to communicate about symptoms and treatment, and help the patient feel connected to the process.”

The Vidyo/HealthSpot integration is also prepared to meet technological and logistical demands stemming from healthcare reform. Through Healthspot’s patient-care workflow, providers save time dealing with patient data and follow-up, facilitated by tight integration of Vidyo into the HealthSpot Station. Says Sebenoler, “With healthcare reform, this kind of workflow efficiency is more important than ever.”

About the author

Dr. Amnon Gavish is senior VP, vertical solutions, Vidyo Inc. For more on Vidyo, go to www.vidyo.com.


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