The Affordable Care Act will flood the resource-strapped national emergency room system with 30 million more insured citizens, increasing already-long wait times to see a doctor. A new hospital-in-a-box, HealthSpot, aims to alleviate congestion with medical stations capable of treating emergency room visits for minor inflictions by beaming in idol doctors via video conference. “Emergency rooms and the urgent cares are being crushed because they’re being used for convenience,” says CIO Dave Sebenoler, who helped launch the product at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
The 10-foot clinic houses a private medical room that feels like a well-lit outhouse. Inside is a scale, chair, and television dashboard, as well as locked bays on each side for medical equipment. After a medically certified assistant helps patients through a kiosk check-in, users are greeted by a friendly doctor who guides them through the use of common medical tools, such as a stethoscope. Vitals are displayed graphically over the doctor’s head throughout the visit.
HealthSpot is currently being piloted in Ohio urgent care and children’s hospital (yes, an urgent care inside of an urgent care – so meta). Eventually, the company wants to bring these tiny health clinics to a local Walgreens, where users can get treated and walk out with an e-prescription right into the pharmacy. Longer term goals may bring tele-doctors to impoverished nations. HealthSpot argues there’s a host of underutilized medical professionals, such as semi-retired doctors who can see patients from the comfort of their homes or nurses in low-traffic rural hospitals who can be beamed into busy urban emergency rooms.
HealthSpot plans on selling stations to hospitals and retail outlets for around $10K to $15K, with a $950-a-month prescription. Properties get a cut of every visit. On the patient side, HealthSpot boasts cheaper rates of around $60-$80 a visit (urgent care visits can be a few hundred dollars). The company is currently navigating the state-by-state insurance system to see how providers can cover telemedicine and e-prescriptions.
Personally, I can’t wait until I can visit my doctor inside a Burger King.