Retailer rolls out telemedicine services in selected stores that give shoppers access to doctors through videoconferencing technology.
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It's the weekend and you've gotten a nasty cold with a high temperature and need to see a doctor, but you also need to buy milk, eggs, and bread. Walmart's telemedicine services now give new meaning to the term "one-stop shopping."
In an interview, officials at telehealth provider Telemed Ventures said the company is currently leasing space in two Walmart stores where doctors can examine shoppers via videoconferencing services provided by Telemed Ventures and their technology partner, BCS Global Networks.
The services will be provided at Walmart’s Bensalem, Penn., store where Telemed will offer services that allows doctors to examine patients with minor illnesses. There are also plans for Telemed Ventures to offer telehealth services at Walmart’s supercenter in Willow Grove, Penn., which is currently under construction.
Walmart spokesperson, Deisha Galberth Barnett says, "Whether a space leased by Telemed, McDonald's, or a nail salon, our goal is to offer products and services that lead to a positive, one-stop-shopping experience for our customers. This includes convenient, affordable access to health care services in two of our Pennsylvania stores through Telemed Ventures. We're committed to providing Walmart customers with affordable access to health care solutions."
BCS Global's managed visual collaboration tools enable remote video consultations between a patient and doctor through a lifelike, virtual face-to-face video interface. BCS Global's service enables Telemed to use its Smart Care Doc technology, which provides a reliable and secure visual collaboration platform for patients, nurses, doctors, and healthcare providers.
In an interview, Darrell Jennings, chief operating officer at Telemed Ventures, said Walmart was interested in working with the company because of its ability to provide a robust platform along with qualified healthcare providers at an attractive price, when compared to the expense that Walmart would incur if it hired dedicated doctors and nurse practitioners at Walmart's clinics. Patients will pay $59 to see a teledoctor, which is approximately 40% less than what similar types of clinics with nurse practitioners are charging, officials say.
Under the agreement, Telemed Ventures will provide nurses and doctors that are part of Telemed's network of clinicians.
A customer can visit a clinic located within the Walmart store and start the examination process by opening a new electronic health record (EHR). Patients enter their name, medical history, medication history, and information about their complaint. A nurse on staff conducts a preliminary examination that includes taking blood pressure, temperature, weight, and other vital signs before the videoconference session begins.
"We collect the patients' vitals with devices that are electronically tied to the computer at the clinic and then all those vitals are uploaded into the patients' medical record in the cloud," Jennings told InformationWeek Healthcare. "The doctor sees that information during the videoconferencing session and, based on the information, the doctor can make a diagnosis, prepare an electronic prescription, enter notes into the EHR, and if the patient needs further attention, refer a patient to a specialist."
Jennings also said patients can access records of their visit through a personal health record (PHR) that the system provides. The patient can then access the PHR on a home computer or tablet.
The technology uses a virtual private cloud computing model provided by Amazon that stores patient data and is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant, Aleksey Konovalov, Telemed Ventures' chief architect, said in an interview.
"We want to make sure that sensitive data such as patient information is transmitted over a secure, encrypted connection and that the information is securely stored and managed [with password authentication codes] that only designated people with certain rights and permissions can have access to," Konovalov said.
In a statement, Clive Sawkins, CEO of BCS Global, said, "This innovative service eliminates the patient's burden of having to travel to out-of-the-way clinics, or sit in waiting rooms anticipating whether their name will be called next."
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