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Companies employ telemedicine kiosks to improve worker wellness Date: 07/12/16

By Phil Galewitz

I’ve done a few telemedicine stories in the past few years for Kaiser Health News including a story about telemedicine kiosks being installed at some Rite Aid stores in Harrisburg, Pa., and other cities. But I was intrigued when heard some employers were setting them up for their workers to use without having to leave the office.

I called some health plans such as United Healthcare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida that were using them with big employers and American Well, the large telemedicine company that was also installing the units in the workplace. I also interviewed some consulting firms such as Willis Towers Watson and Frost & Sullivan that worked in the field to get some perspective and some figures on their use.

I knew I couldn’t write a story without actually seeing a telemedicine kiosk in use in a workplace. Luckily, I live in Palm Beach County, Fla., and the local school district had installed a unit a year earlier in conjunction with United Healthcare. The visit gave me a chance to get a feel for the kiosk, meet an employee using one and talk to the district officials about their first-year experience. Research on Google also led me to the City of Kansas City which had installed a telemedicine kiosk and I was able to report on its first-year results.

There was no secret sauce to the reporting. I talked to several employers, insurers and two of the biggest telemedicine companies. All gave me leads on which employers have started using them. Some employers were reluctant to talk but I found enough to give good examples in the story. All noted the employers were increasingly interested in the kiosks though most were unsure if the trend would last.