Enter a small cabin located in a shopping center, close the door and suddenly you find yourself in a small, self-operated physician’s office. Now push the bottom and follow the instructions displayed on the screen. Portable telemedicine kiosks are to make healthcare easily accessible. Although HealthSpot has failed, now H4D wants to restore hopes in telehealth.
If you are following innovations in healthcare, you surely remember the forerunner of telemedicine kiosks – HealthSpot. Despite huge VC funding of $43 million, prominent partnerships and a clear vision of self-served telemedicine cabins located all over the US, HealthSpot shut down in 2016. For many investors and telecare enthusiasts, it was the end of the big dreams about telemedicine available for all. The technology was ready, but few things went wrong, like for example market and investment strategy.
Will the Consult Station, a patented and certified Class II Medical Device made by French company H4D, succeed on the market? The idea remains similar: a small cabin which can be placed anywhere, where patients can consult their health concerns, get a prescription or make a self-performed check-up.
“If the general practitioner is not available, the Consult Station is a good way to consult a physician in the same conditions than a visit in a traditional physician’s office. As in a classic office, the physician receives you, listens to you and accompanies you to take your measurements. At the end of the consultation, the physician can, in case of need, make a prescription, directly printed in the booth,” promises H4D. In the Consult Station patients can also autonomously perform health-checks. Inside the cabin, patients can find blood pressure meter, thermometer, oximeter, scale and height gauge, electrocardiogram, tonal audiogram, eyesight testing devices.
H4D is not alone on the telehealth market. In March 2019, Florida-based company OnMed launched a telemedicine kiosk that can also dispense prescription medications. American Well’s telehealth solution (it’s not really a kiosk, rather a digital wall with a big display and six shelves for different medical devices) includes a variety of peripheral devices such as an otoscope, stethoscope, and blood pressure cuff.
Following the ResearchAndMarket report, the global telehealth market is expected to reach around $40 billion, growing at a CAGR of 25% during 2018-2025. “The access to telehealthcare has improved medical treatment and helped in cost-reduction, which has significantly increased the reach of the global telehealth market. The demand for virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, and mHealth is growing at a phenomenal rate, which, in turn, is driving the growth of the global telehealth market”.
Telemedicine kiosks are a good alternative for the traditional visits. Sitting in a cabin and talking to the screen might sound bizarre, but it’s a comfortable way of consulting some health concerns. You don’t need an appointment, you can avoid long waiting times, travel to the nearest clinic is not necessary anymore. It sounds good but many questions remain unanswered. Will patients trust machines the same as they trust doctors? Is talking to the monitor an equivalent of talking with a physician? How the increasing use of personal smart wearables will influence telehealth? Will the visits in the telehealth kiosks be reimbursed by the public healthcare system?