Health IT

Telemedicine startup aims to be ‘ATM for healthcare,’ displace retail clinics

A Columbus, Ohio-area telemedicine startup is looking to provide hurried patients a better alternative than retail medical clinics with its virtual-doctor’s-office kiosks. HealthSpot aims to place its “Care4 Station” kiosks in locations like pharmacies, grocery stores and employer sites, and plans to begin rolling out the kiosks in the first quarter. The company plans to […]

A Columbus, Ohio-area telemedicine startup is looking to provide hurried patients a better alternative than retail medical clinics with its virtual-doctor’s-office kiosks.

HealthSpot aims to place its “Care4 Station” kiosks in locations like pharmacies, grocery stores and employer sites, and plans to begin rolling out the kiosks in the first quarter. The company plans to start with Ohio customers, and then go national.

CEO Steve Cashman likened HealthSpot to an “ATM for healthcare,” because the company is similarly looking to create greater access and convenience for users through its technology. He describes the company’s mission as to create the “highest-quality, most efficient healthcare appointment.”

HealthSpot envisions patients using its kiosks for a variety of primary care needs — minor illnesses, skin conditions allergies and the like. Each kiosk comes equipped with high-definition videoconferencing capabilities, plus integrated digital medical equipment that can sends doctors diagnostic information like temperature and blood pressure.

An attendant would be on hand for technical help and to clean the kiosk. Cost per appointment will range from $59 to $69, Cashman said.

Noted Cleveland product development firm Nottingham Spirk helped design the kiosks.

“We’ve  put a large amount of our time into making sure the consumer experience is just over the top,” Cashman said.

Cashman said HealthSpot’s kiosks will provide a better experience than retail clinics because patients will have appointments with doctors rather than nurses, and offer an enhanced continuum of care by allowing a patient to visit with the same doctor for each appointment. In theory, a patients could visit with their own primary care physicians, assuming that the physician had signed up to be a HealthSpot provider. Plus, HealthSpot’s appointment costs are also on par with those of retail clinics, Cashman said.

In addition to product development, much of HealthSpot’s recent focus has been on establishing partnerships with medical providers and customers. Cashman promises some “major announcements” with pharmacy and grocery customers during the new year. HealthSpot is currently running a pilot with primary care group Central Ohio Primary Care.

The company earlier this month announced a marketing partnership with a Columbus-area contractor aimed at landing HealthSpot’s kiosks in military facilities and other U.S. government groups in remote locations.

HealthSpot has thus far pulled in about $6 million in equity and counts some prominent names among its investors and advisors, including former Gartner CEO Manny Fernandez and MemberHealth founder Chuck Hallberg. Another big name and industry heavy hitter, former Cleveland Clinic CEO Floyd Loop, recently joined HealthSpot’s board.

HealthSpot even has a prominent institutional investor, Columbus-area pharmaceuticals distributor Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH), Ohio’s largest company by revenues. A Cardinal spokeswoman declined to confirm an investment in HealthSpot. “We generally don’t disclose details around non-material investments,” she said.

HealthSpot will likely look for some growth capital to fund its anticipated national expansion, but for now is focused on securing customers and partners, Cashman said.