Self-service healthcare here we come

Published: September 15th, 2010

If you are at Sunnybrook, Holland Centre or Cambridge Memorial Hospital you might see a strange looking green ATM machine. But this kiosk dispenses medication instead of cash. What it also does is get you in front of a physician and pharmacist 24 hours a day seven days a week.

The aim of these medical self-service kiosks is to dramatically reduce wait times at hospitals.According to Nelson Gomez, vice president of sales, self-service solutions at NCR, said that more than $160 billion or 11 per cent of gross domestic product in Canada is spent on healthcare. About 50 per cent of people who check into a hospital are low-risk patients who do not need the attention of a doctor. “The wait times for these people are up to six hours. These people can now spend 30 minutes to see a doctor and gets their medication through an NCR built kiosk,” Gomez said.

The goal is to reduce wait times by 75 per cent for patients.

Called the PharmaTrust MedCentre System, it’s a telepharmacy that dispenses prescription medications at points of care including hospital clinics, physician offices, pharmacies, health care centres and remote locations. The kiosk works in a collaborative way with a team of pharmacists with physicians in the local area of the patient, said Don Waugh, CEO and Co-Founder of PharmaTrust of Oakville, Ont.

The $120,000 solution incorporates live two-way video conferencing that connects patients and doctors to a data network and acts as an on-demand triage centre for dealing with urgent patient issues. Waugh believes that these MedCentre kiosk solutions can address aboriginal communities and underserved regions.

Waugh added that the demand for these units is so great that PharmaTrust is open to new channel partner relationships for deployment and other services not just in Canada but the rest of the world.Patients can even speed up the process by pre-registering online before they go a visit the PharmaTrust MedCentre kiosk. There are plans to also provide mobile text messages about appointments and positive test results.

Waugh said that rural outposts are in need of these solutions. For example the town of Port Colborne closed down its medical clinic and MedCentre Kiosk can help about 50 per cent of that population.PharmaTrust’s plan is to deploy MedCentres in five types of locations: Pharmacies on a 24 hour basis, physician clinics, hospitals, outpatient clinics and even grocery stores.

The PharmaTrust MedCentre works in conjunction with the StayHealthy kiosk, which is a sit down machine that can assess body composition, respiration, weight, vision, blood pressure, hearing and pulse oximetry all by the user.

The PharmaTrust MedCentre comes in two versions a double stack option for $85,000 and a single unit for $50,000. The machines are also tamper proof with heat, tip and motion sensors. Waugh added that the medicine in the machine would have no street market value.


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