The healthcare industry recognizes three categories of telemedicine: real time diagnostics, remote patient monitoring, and data collection and storage. Different terms are used to describe all three, but this is all semantics. As a patient, you may have experienced one or more since the start of the COVID pandemic.
Below are examples of medical kiosks representing all three types of telemedicine. If you have any experience with them, you will probably recognize them straight away. If not, it is only a matter of time before you gain that personal experience. Telemedicine is growing so fast that it’s quickly becoming the new standard.
1. Real Time Diagnostics
Although telemedicine predates what we consider modern technology, the ability to offer real time diagnostics did not come into play until the 1970s. It was then that the remote blood pressure kiosk became part of the American consciousness. The kiosks began popping up in neighborhood drugstores and department store pharmacies all over the country. Anyone could sit down and have their blood pressure monitored in real time.
Modern kiosks go way beyond blood pressure monitoring. A CSI Health medical kiosk with on-board diagnostics also includes tools like infrared thermometers, otoscopes, dermoscopes, and pulse oximeters. All the tools send data directly to the medical provider through a secure network and cloud environment. It is the next best thing to being in the office.
2. Remote Patient Monitoring
A big part of managing chronic illness is patient monitoring. Outside of the telemedicine setting, patients routinely report to a doctor’s office or clinic where they meet with a doctor, nurse, or advanced practice nurse who performs a quick examination. In a telemedicine scenario, the same thing is accomplished.
There are two ways to achieve remote patient monitoring. The first is with portable kiosks that are more like boxed kits than anything else. In some cases, patients keep the kits in their homes and connect with their medical providers on a regular schedule. In other cases, visiting nurses stop by to facilitate contact between medical provider and patient.
A newer method is through the use of wearables. When a patient’s condition warrants, a wearable can monitor everything from heart rate and respiration to blood sugar levels. Wearables eliminate the need to make direct contact with medical providers unless something goes wrong.
3. Data Collection and Scourge
Even if you have never experienced the first two types of medical kiosks before, it is a safe bet you have interacted with a machine in this final category. Medical kiosks designed for data collection and storage are usually presented as tablet computers in hospital waiting rooms and doctor’s offices. Phlebotomy labs are starting to adopt these types of kiosks as well.
The kiosk is placed somewhere in a facility waiting room. Its location is generally accessible without forcing patients to move to other rooms. What is its purpose? To facilitate check-in and gather any preliminary information needed by the healthcare provider. At a lab, you would sign in at the kiosk before sitting down to wait your turn. You do not have to interact with a receptionist or fill out any paperwork. Everything is done at the kiosk.
Incidentally, online healthcare portals that give patients access to their own digital accounts also qualify as telemedicine. It is just an administrative form of the same data collection and storage principle.
Telemedicine is here to stay. And now, thanks to ever improving technology and a new willingness among healthcare providers to embrace it, the medical kiosk is at the forefront of the telemedicine revolution. Expect to see more of them as time goes by.