Pete Celano, 10 December 2015
One in every five adults in America lives in a home with either no computer or no internet connection. For many of them, the local library is their salvation when it comes to crossing over the digital divide. [this is part 2 of a 2-parter; part 1 is here]
‘If they didn’t come to the public library, where they have access to computers, as well as high-speed broadband and the qualified staff to help them on the computer, they would really be at a disadvantage,”
says Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association.
The American Library Association launched a big campaign called “Libraries Transform” in October, 2015, to show the myriad ways the modern library serves consumers today. And what makes sense next? Virtual Visits (VVs) in healthcare.
How might VVs at American libraries unfold?
- There are two types of kiosks in VV, where a patient can not only speak to a provider with complete privacy, but also measure vitals. Kiosks can be attended or unattended. Let me suggest ATTENDED to start, see #3.
- Once you have a Medical Assistant at the kiosk, successful patient usage goes way up. But better…
- … now you can enlist a participating healthcare provider. Keep in mind healthcare systems have a need: It’s called new patients. I imagine in any given geo a library system that is willing to offer real estate for VV kiosks would find a willing provider to deliver the Medical Assistant to staff the kiosk, during library hours.
- What’s the give from the library? Just 90 square feet or so, Internet connectivity and electricity.
- Proof that healthcare systems are seeking new locations? See the extent to which they have “spoked” into grocery stores (example from Richmond with Bon Secours).
Here’s a kiosk that is getting plenty of attention: Dublin, Ohio-based HealthSpot:
HealthSpot has built the HealthSpot station, a private, walk-in kiosk with integrated medical devices that is staffed by an attendant and connects patients to providers via high-definition videoconference. The 8-by-5 foot station needs about 50 square feet of space around it for a total of 90 square feet.
HealthSpot stations are already transforming many a retail pharmacy into a one-stop shop for busy patients to get in, get a healthcare visit and get better faster. And it’s a transformation that’s ripe to expand beyond the retail pharmacy: by placing stations in community hubs like libraries, HealthSpot can enable convenient access points across the community to truly bring people the right care at the right time in the right place. It’s a solution that can indeed leverage local provider networks and trusted health systems for the ultimate mix of quality and convenience.
SUMMARY: Who wants to help make sure those who lack computer/Internet connectivity at home don’t miss out on healthcare access via the tectonic plate-shifting force that is VV? According to the ALA, there are 119,487 libraries in America today. When do we start?