CLEARWATER, Fla. — How would you feel about a virtual trip to the hospital?
That means talking to a virtual nurse, getting examined by a virtual doctor, and then taking home real medication.....all in one small booth.
That's the idea behind OnMed, a new Clearwater-based company hoping to have telemedicine stations in place in some airports and college campuses by the end of 2019.
"These are really like exam rooms. They're just exam rooms all over the country," explained Dr. Kristi Henderson, DNP.
Henderson is president of the American Telemedicine Association. She believes this concept will bring quality doctors to people in rural areas while also alleviating the demand in urban areas.
"This just provides more access points, and you can get strategic on where you put them so you can improve health," Henderson explained.
Once you walk in the booth, you're met by a virtual medical assistant. The glass fogs, and the sound is muffled for your privacy. Then the station is able to read your temperature, weight and blood pressure.
You can have a back-and-forth conversation with the virtual medical assistant followed by the exam with a virtual doctor and even use a small camera to give the physician a closer look.
"We can look at lesions on your arm, we can look at the back of your throat," explained Ryan Brock, the Chief Technology Officer with OnMed.
Then, if needed, the doctor will prescribe medicine that you'll take with you on the spot. The medication is dispensed from a vault in the station.
Although this concept won't replace in-person care, it can save people time and hassle at an ER.
"The downside is we still have to sometimes go in to get healthcare in person; but if you embed this in the whole system of care, you use all the resources in the most effective way," Henderson said.
OnMed said the cost will vary depending on insurance; but if you don't have insurance, you're looking at $65-$75 for a visit plus the price of medication. That's about the same as a virtual clinic with CVS or Walgreens.
The OnMed stations are regulated by the FDA and Hippa.
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