Telehealth and telemedicine represent a significant opportunity for pharmacists and providers to partner on cutting-edge healthcare models, and pharmacy chains such as Walgreens and CVS are looking to embrace this technology in a big way.
This new and quite disruptive technology (particularly for GP’s) has been adapted as a kiosk fitted with a range of communication and testing systems and has been given the name of Healthspot Station.
Steve Cashman, the inventor, has developed his initial concept with a range of investors/partners to a level where he believes he can target every single pharmacy in the US – the whole 62,000 of them.
While he has considered a range of other sites such as supermarkets, major retailers and shopping malls, he appears to believe that pharmacy is the best environment for his concept, simply because it is a convenient clinical space with well-trained and supportive staff.
It is thought that telehealth and telemedicine will extend the role of the community pharmacist.
Walgreens is already conducting 9-10,000 clinical conversations each week involving questions about medications and their interactions.
The next step is to partner with other health providers to expand this model of healthcare.
i2P believes that this model promotes integration and collaboration and can envisage clinical pharmacists being able to be able to connect from their own home office as well as connect to multiple pharmacies.
For a minor ailments program in community pharmacy, this could be an answer to clinical issues sitting somewhere between a dispensing pharmacist and a G.P, by having a range of complexity established formally in a chain of referral.
It also creates opportunities for clinical nurse practitioners, allied health care practitioners, even access to natural health practitioners.
Pharmacy fits naturally into a system of being an electronic hub connecting a range of different practitioners, while at the same time providing a “home” for the clinical pharmacist able to develop a service in an economic format, not having to worry about rentals and other overheads.
Welcome to the new concept of a “patient home” provided in a more convenient and accessible format and a concept that seems logical for a debt-strapped government to consider funding, because of its lower cost.
It offers an alternative to the GP version of a “patient home” but with control still vested in the patient as they choose which practitioner pathway they wish to follow.
It is also a probable pathway to a more commoditised version of primary health care, but with an ageing population, cost of healthcare has to reduce so that the concept of a universal healthcare can still exist and be fair to all.
In the US, Primary Health Care has become the fastest growth area for telemedicine in part because of the convenience it offers — a chance to seek help without leaving home or work and to avoid sitting in a waiting room filled with other sick people.
Healthspot Station sits very neatly in a central “pharmacy-in-the home” concept linkage and ties a number of disparate health communications together
The PGA has submitted a proposal to the Australian Government that would involve pharmacies becoming the hub for a Minor Ailments Program, funded by government.
The idea is soundly based because this is what pharmacists have done for as long as I can remember, with the time involved with patient consultation being reimbursed through the sale of medicines.
With payment for consultation time, pharmacists have the incentive to treat minor ailments and can do so in an evidence-based way, even to the point of refusing to supply a product if evidence does not exist.
Patients can have more focus and attention through this type of model.
The following three videos give a brief overview of the Healthspot concept, its history and the range of investment it is attracting.
Samsung has become an alliance partner with its point of care technology.
This is disruptive technology to existing laboratories because it is able to deliver a range of basic patient biometrics in a time-span of seven minutes at a very cheap cost.
Patients are enabled to call regularly to their pharmacy Healthspot to get regular tests at an economical price.
This creates opportunities.
First, is the opportunity to familiarise patients with the Healthspot environment.
Second, is the opportunity to sell the entire range of services and create the “theatre” and excitement of having a patient-centred experience, but still connected to all other health practitioners who will need to be part of this form of engagement.
The fact that pharmacists have been suppressed within the clinical environment to have become almost invisible is now extraordinarily changed to the extent that Healthspot puts pharmacists front and centre as the hub of healthcare.
Click on the image below to get a larger view of the equipment and the range of tests available.