In Tampa, you can make a quick run for milk, eggs, and a check-up for a head cold—all in one place. Recently, BayCare Health System and Publix Super Markets teamed up to provide telemedicine kiosks where customers can talk with a physician remotely to address simple medical problems. The “Walk-In Care” kiosks, located near the Publix pharmacies, specialize in providing convenience: Customers can visit the doctor while shopping for groceries.
Telemedicine kiosks offer an immediate alternative to the days-long delay that is sometimes required to make an appointment at the doctor’s office. Since this approach will also keep patients away from costly emergency rooms and even urgent care centers, BayCare believes that telemedicine kiosks will significantly reduce the overall cost of healthcare.
The younger generations are embracing the technology more eagerly, explained Glenn Waters, executive vice president and chief operating officer with BayCare, but older generations are anticipating the convenience and better customer experience provided by telemedicine. Patients and their families appear to appreciate the simplicity; it can be challenging to specially arrange transportation to a doctor’s office, but everyone visits the grocery store.
The kiosks, located in a private room, allow patients to speak privately with doctors on a large screen. Basic medical tools are stored beside the screen—such as a thermometer, pulse oximeter, stethoscope, and “derm cam” to take pictures of skin issues. The physicians see the patients on their own screens and receive data from the medical tools. Prescriptions are sent to the Publix in-store pharmacy or a pharmacy of the patient’s choosing, while more serious cases are referred to urgent care centers. BayCare follows up with each patient over the phone a few days after the initial telemedicine visit. Each in-store session lasts around 10 minutes; afterward, Publix employees disinfect the room and equipment before the next patient enters.
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