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The blood pressure booth is getting an upgrade.
Those self-service kiosks that are often seen in supermarket pharmacies are becoming comprehensive health and wellness screening stations, thanks to SoloHealth. The Duluth, Ga.-based company has more than 300 such kiosks in high-retail-traffic locations around the country and is poised to boost that number considerably over the next year.
"We're placing these where people are," says Bart Foster, the company's CEO and co-founder, who says each kiosk sees between 40 and 150 people a day.
Originally launched as a vision-screening booth called the EyeSite kiosk, the SoloHealth Station received a significant upgrade in 2010 in the form of a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Institute of Health. The grant was used to add a number of new features, including health screenings for blood pressure, weight and body mass index, a symptom checker and an overall health assessment and pain management module. In addition, the kiosk's touchscreen interface can be used to locate nearby healthcare providers and schedule an appointment.
Foster said the kiosk will include more features in the future, including assessment for common colds, nutritional supplements and vitamins and possibly a link to the user's personal health record or electronic medical record.
"I can see this becoming a health services business," he says of SoloHealth, which he feels is on the "front porch" of the healthcare industry, closest to the consumer. "It's fairly early on – self-service healthcare is really in its infancy."
This past March, SoloHealth secured a financial investment from Coinstar, the developer of the Redbox video rental kiosks. In June, the company's kiosk received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be classified as a Class 2 medical device.
Just two weeks ago, SoloHealth scored a significant victory in a partnership with WellPoint, Inc., one of the nation's largest health benefits companies. The deal, which includes an undisclosed financial investment, means the SoloHealth Station will soon be seen in a number of new locations.
"We have a longstanding commitment to help people get healthy and stay healthy by leveraging consumer-friendly products and services to improve their health and wellness," said Brett Moraski, vice president of transformation for Indianapolis-based WellPoint, in a press release. "SoloHealth's consumer kiosk … is a truly innovative product that leverages technology to provide an enhanced, convenient and engaging consumer health experience. By investing in SoloHealth we are excited to help millions of Americans better manage their own health and well-being."
Foster says partnerships with payers make sense in the midst of healthcare reform because they're facing the daunting tasking of adding millions of newly insured people to their rolls and "need to get closer to the consumer." To that end, he sees SoloHealth Stations being placed in large businesses, corporate campuses and shopping malls.
Future locations, he says, might include hospitals, schools and college campuses.
Company officials say the kiosk offers a personalized, targeted and interactive opportunity not only for consumers, but advertisers, retailers and even providers. A multi-platform approach could pull in advertising, the Internet and mobile and social media to enable and deliver a large number of consumer health and wellness messages.
"We're very open to establishing those relationships," says Foster.
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