Akin to Skyping with a doctor and then immediately accessing a vending machine to dispense a variety of medicines, a new OnMed Telemachine Station located in the food court at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) demonstrates how technology can be used in future medical care.
TGH became the first in the world to launch this Telemachine Station on Oct. 1.
“This is kind of the game-changer for telehealth kiosk stations in general. In the past, it had been a video experience, but now we also have greater diagnostic capabilities. Patients are able to go to one location, see a doctor, then get their prescriptions,” says Marion Dawkins, Director of Ambulatory Strategy and Operations at Tampa General Hospital.
At these unmanned stations, a patient can walk into one of the two 6 x 7 ft. handicap accessible rooms to have a private, real-time video discussion with one of the many doctors or advanced practitioners on hand, shielded by privacy glass and sound barriers. In addition to accurate height, weight, and BMI measurements, they also give accurate readings of blood pressure, respiration, blood oxygen saturation, and thermal imaging. Medicines can be prescribed like a typical doctor’s visit through a secure, automated vault, saving patients time making multiple trips to the doctor’s office, then the drug store. If they don’t have what you need in stock, they can provide written or e-prescriptions to the pharmacy of your choosing.
Worried about germs? Fear not, they have their own housecleaning service of UV rays to sanitize the room between sessions. Maintenance staff regularly comes through to clean and disinfect the stations. As of now, this machine is available only to TGH team members.
“We wanted them to test out the system first, but we will look to deploy 10-15 more stations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, and Pasco counties and be looking to develop these in areas like schools, airports, theme parks, and large businesses. We wanted its initial launch to be in a high-traffic area in the hospital like the food court so we can start educating patients on what OnMed and these stations are. We get dozens of team members and patients asking what it is and what its capabilities are, so we are starting the education process within the community now,” Dawkins explains.
The main goal of these stations is to provide convenient, affordable access to some of the best health care options. The stations will accept most major insurances and are capable of being open 24/7 depending on the host location and would only take about 8-15 minutes per visit.
“Typically, telehealth is more for on-demand visits and urgent care, ear infections, colds, flus, but we see this moving into more kinds of wellness visits like behavioral health, counseling, nutritional counseling, or primary care. We are excited about our partnership with OnMed and brining these to communities and providing them with these telehealth experiences as well,” Dawkins says.
For more information, visit the websites for OnMed and Tampa General Hospital.