Steve Cashman, founder and CEO of HealthSpot, grew up taking things apart and figuring out what was wrong with them. His problem-solving skills were honed at a young age and helped him to be a successful businessman, but it wasn't until his daughter suffered an ear infection that he got the idea to reinvent the healthcare industry.
"I wanted to do something that meant more, both to me [and] to society," he says. "So the 'a-ha' moment was...here I sit in an urgent care with my kids and I'm thinking, 'Gosh, we've got doctors back there just sitting and waiting for people to walk in.' And what was astonishing to me is that we spend more on healthcare in America than any other of the top 10 countries, but yet our life expectancy is lower."
To bridge the gap, Cashman created HealthSpot, which manufactures enclosed kiosks that give patients access to a network of doctors through a video chat experience. With the help of a medical assistant and actual medical instruments located in the pod, doctors are able to dispense medical advice as if they were right there. The pods can be installed in schools, nursing homes, community centers and emergency rooms, and are currently operational at the pediatric healthcare organization Rainbow Care Connection in Cleveland, Ohio.
Rainbow was one of the first organizations to buy the pods from HealthSpot, hoping to move patients with non-urgent ailments out of the emergency room. "Right now we know that 70 percent of the people that come to the emergency department with medicaid insurance, do not need to be seen necessarily in the emergency department. It would be much more cost effective to have children seen in their primary care office or in these low-cost Rainbow healthcare stations," Dr. Drew Hertz, Rainbow Care Connection's medical director, says.
According to Cleveland.com, patients do not have to pay a fee for the virtual appointments, thanks to a $12.7 million federal grant Rainbow received in July to help improve care for Northeast Ohio children who frequently visited the emergency room. The grant was one of 107 that were awarded to projects around the country.
"The industry is really starting to move very quickly toward adoption of telehealth as a standard," Cashman told the site. "We've seen many of the large, integrated health systems pushing telehealth as a major part of their strategy in 2013."