I’d be among the first to confess that I don’t see doctors as often as I should. Unless a health condition prevents me from working or participating in my favorite sports, I can drag out for weeks making a doctor’s appointment. That’s why I was intrigued by the mention in Boards & Solutions magazine of a healthcare kiosk that could be set up in convenient locations for people to visit for a quick checkup or diagnosis of many common ailments. Located in a place I regularly shopped, such a kiosk would make it harder to procrastinate.
In this post, I’m going to briefly look at a kiosk by SoloHealth and more in depth at a more comprehensive one by HealthSpot. Both use Dell OEM hardware and Intel processors to give patients immediate access to board-certified doctors via high-definition videoconferencing and interactive, digital telehealth tools.
How Healthcare Is Changing
Healthcare is one of the many areas in which the Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting and enriching all our lives. A recent innovative IoT idea for healthcare is the clinic without walls. Or, for privacy sake, a kiosk. The idea is to supplement the traditional hospital campus with community care stations in workplaces, shopping centers and malls, fitness centers, pharmacies, and even libraries and public plazas. In fact, Penn Schoen Berland, a global research-based consultancy, conducted over 12,000 interviews of consumers in eight countries and found that 75 percent are willing to see a doctor via video conferencing, 53 percent would trust a test they administered as much as one administered by a doctor, and 84 percent would share personal health details to lower their overall healthcare costs. A 2012 IMS Research study predicted “telehealth” would grow to 1.7 million patient visits by 2017.
The Shape of Things to Come
Dell OEM Solutions recently worked with Intel to help SoloHealth, a consumer-directed health-care platform company, assemble the necessary technology to expand its award-winning line of FDA-approved self-service health kiosks (Figure 1). These FDA-cleared, HIPAA-compliant, Class II medical kiosks using Dell OEM Solutions powered by Intel® processors received a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate award, and are already up and running in 3,500 retail locations. Stores include Walmart, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Schnuck Markets, Vons, Tom Thumb, and Randalls. The interactive unit gives consumers free and convenient access to healthcare through screening tools for vision, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI), providing an overall health risk assessment and access to a database of local providers and actionable recommendations to improve health outcomes moving forward.
Another kiosk project, the HealthSpot station, also uses Dell OEM hardware and goes even further in terms of diagnostics abilities (Figure 2). HealthSpot, a Dublin, Ohio-based firm sees the future of convenient care as private booths that a patient can enter and perform a series of medical diagnostics following the instructions of board-certified doctors via high-definition videoconferencing and interactive, digital telehealth tools. The solution uses powerful Intel® Core™ processors to support the real-time transmission of high-definition audio and video, while also gathering the data from attached peripheral medical devices such as heart monitors, CT scanners, X-ray and ultrasound machines, blood pressure cups, thermometers, and more.
The usage model is simple. A patient suffering a routine malady or a more complex condition can walk into a HealthSpot location, perform some quick vital signs measurements, and then video conference with a board-certified physician (Figure 3). Patients can use medical devices such as a stethoscope or pulse oximeter and other devices as directed to aid the doctor in his or her diagnosis remotely. The doctor can even prescribe medicine and the kiosk will print out the prescription right there. (To see the HealthSpot station in action, watch this video.) A door ensures privacy and there is room in the kiosk for a companion should the patient need or want one.
The HealthSpot Station takes up 40 square feet of space and instead of requiring nurse practitioners, uses a medical attendant who can help the consumer interact with the devices and the remote physician. This reduces costs, enabling retailers using the HealthSpot Station to turn a profit with as few as five appointments per day. Compare this so a traditional retail clinic in a pharmacy that can require approximately 350 square feet and two nurse practitioners. According to an article in Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry news, traditional retail clinics have to do about 26 appointments in a day to make a profit.
Aside from a small footprint of space and the attendant, all the HealthSpot kiosk needs is an AC power connection and Internet access. After each visit, a checklist comes up with a series of steps the attendant must take to prepare the kiosk for the next patient. That next patient session can't begin until all items on the preparation checklist have been completed and recorded. The attendant uses disinfectant wipes to sanitize interior surfaces and any medical equipment used during a visit. The thermometer, otoscope and dermascope have disposable caps. Throughout the day, the attendant also runs a medical-grade disinfection UVC light mounted in the HealthSpot Station to disinfect the entire HealthSpot Station interior. The materials used in the construction of the HealthSpot Station are also designed for resistance to bacteria, molds and mildews.
Pilots of the HealthSpot kiosk achieved an 80% to 90% satisfaction among consumers—higher than corresponding numbers from urgent care centers.
The Dell OEM and Intel® Technology at Work
According to HealthSpot, Dell OEM Solutions played a critical role in helping them build a well-integrated service and IT infrastructure, including hardware, software and services. Dell OEM Solutions helps customers bring to market their intellectual property while leveraging Dell’s global supply chain for distribution and support. Working with Dell OEM, HealthSpot receives Dell systems and routers and receives third-party monitors through Dell partner Arrow Electronics. The result is faster time to market.
The HealthSpot Kiosk integrates five different Dell OEM solutions:
· Dell B1260dn laser printer
· Dell Latitude E5440 laptop
· Dell OptiPlex XE2 system
· Dell PowerEdge R620 rack server (used in HealthSpot’s data center and powered by Intel® Xeon® processors)
· Dell SonicWALL TZ 215 Series firewall
Hidden in the kiosk is the Dell OptiPlex XE2 system, the key component for integrating the various medical devices and other systems. This system, using 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5/i7 processors, was selected for its performance and fast I/O. These processors make system-intensive diagnostic and imaging applications, as well as video conferencing, run fast and smooth, pleasing patients and doctors alike with the fast results. What’s more, the integrated graphics deliver stunning visual performance and support up to three monitors at once with native DP/DP/VGA ports—without the added cost of a discrete graphics card.
A key consideration in the selection of the Dell OptiPlex XE2 and its Intel Core processors was its connectivity. The integrated next-generation I/O of the 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors include PCI Express* Gen 2.0, SATA 6.0 Gbps, and USB 3.0 with Intel® Flex I/O (a feature that allows a system integrator to assign various I/O based on configuration needs). Equipped with one of these processors, the Dell OptiPlex can handle up to 10 combined USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connections, as well as optional powered USB—enough to connect all the kiosk’s medical devices. Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 2.0 (Intel® AVX2) which accelerate integer/matrix compute performance for signal and image processing applications provide an added boost for the medical imaging devices.
The Dell OptiPlex XE2, featuring the latest Intel® vPro™ technology and Dell‘s unique extensions for remote BIOS management, is among the world’s most manageable systems. This is extremely important when operating hundreds of kiosks across a retail chain. The combination streamlines deployment, monitoring and updating. Intel vPro technology even supports operating system-absent manageability and down-the-wire security even when the system is powered off, the operating system is unresponsive, or software agents are disabled.
Additional features help make the Dell OptiPlex XE2 extremely secure. Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT) and Dell’s integrated Trusted Platform Module (TPM) work together to ensure when the system boots that the BIOS, operating system and software are in a trusted execution state. This provides a solid foundation for security, helping to harden the platform from BIOS attacks, malicious root kit installations, or other software-based attacks. This is valuable insurance for keeping healthcare kiosks from getting “sick.”
Convenient Medical Care Coming to a Shopping Center near You
HealthSpot is looking to scale up its business through an ambitious rollout plan. The company estimates that through its relationship with Dell OEM and Arrow Electronics, it can deploy its kiosks within 60 days of signing a contract. The ability of Intel processors to enable Dell OEM devices to simultaneously gather data, run diagnostic procedures, communicate with the patient, and display data ensures healthcare practitioners what they need to effectively treat remotely patients like me that are often too busy to make an appointment.
Contact featured members:
Solutions in this blog:
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance
Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine