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HealthSpot’s Demise Could Spell the End of Telemedicine Kiosks

The company's sudden shutdown comes just five months after announcing a major partnership with Rite-Aid and one year after a successful pilot in California.

By Eric Wicklund

- HealthSpot, whose high-tech telemedicine kiosks have been a fixture at healthcare conferences, has apparently – and abruptly - shut down.

The surprise news deals a blow to the kiosk industry, which had tried to position itself as a viable alternative to online telemedicine services in health centers, retail locations and remote sites like cruise ships and oil rigs.  As recently as this past August, the Dublin, Ohio-based company had boasted of opening kiosks in 25 Rite-Aid pharmacies across Ohio, with plans to expand much farther.

On Dec. 28, however, Rite-Aid officials announced that HealthSpot would “cease operations effective Thursday, Dec. 31.” The Cleveland Clinic, a longtime partner, also saw its collaboration end.

“They’re no longer operational in our facilities,” a spokesman told MedCity News, which broke the story on Jan. 5.

The only comment so far from HealthSpot officials was a simple “no comment” issued through their PR agency. The company’s website is still up, but both the site and phone numbers are unresponsive.

Launched in 2012, the company, whose eight-foot-by-five-foot kiosks graced the exhibit halls of CES (where it debuted in 2013), HIMSS and American Telemedicine Association conferences and visited Capitol Hill, positioned itself as provider of mobile clinics, capable of delivering complete healthcare exams, health and wellness checkups and other services in office buildings, malls, remote clinics, community health centers, pharmacies and other locations.

Along with the Cleveland Clinic, the company had partnerships with the Mayo Clinic, Miami Children’s Hospital, Kaiser Permanente and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, as well as Teladoc, Xerox and MedAvail Technologies. This past August, the company had announced a partnership with Samsung to incorporate “lab-on-a-chip” technology to its kiosks, enabling visitors to have bloodwork done for cholesterol, diabetes and liver tests in as little as seven minutes.

In 2014, HealthSpot teamed with Kaiser Permanente to test its kiosk in a San Diego County office building. The nine-month program, CEO Steve Cashman said, proved that a kiosk could holds its own against online telemedicine platforms.

"This is the bar. This is what we expect with HealthSpot," he said in an interview roughly one year ago, in which he announced plans to locate kiosks in several more California locations. "This offers the same standard of care as an in-person visit. … This is becoming an extension of the medical community. Doctors love it, and the only question we're getting from consumers is, 'Why aren't there more?"

And last August, in announcing the deal with Rite-Aid – the nation’s third largest pharmacy chain - Cashman said the healthcare kiosk was ready to become a fixture in pharmacies.

"Many of the (pharmacy) chains are looking at reinventing the healthcare model," he told mHealth News, "and health providers are realizing that they have to reinvent their model to be more attractive to the patient. This is much more efficient for them. It would be so easy to say, 'I'm going to do my follow-up appointment at the pharmacy.'"

"What we have found is that doctors' desire to deliver remote care is strong," he added. "We've had a lot of medical communities come to the table."

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