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Walmart prepares to introduce self-service health kiosks

Machines offer in-store access to blood pressure tests, eye exams

Topics: Patient-Focused Care, Methodologies, Performance Improvement, Outpatient Shift, Market Trends, Strategy, Primary Care, Service Lines

February 21, 2013

Self-service kiosks that aim to boost consumer health are being deployed in thousands of stores across the United States, Kaiser Health News reports.

Next month, Walmart and Sam's Club are scheduled to debut 2,500 of the kiosks developed by Duluth, Ga.-based SoloHealth. The kiosks will offer consumers access to various health tests, such as: 

  • Blood pressure;
  • Eye sight; and
  • Obesity.

The devices also can advise patients on diet, locating a doctor, pain management, and vitamins. In addition, SoloHealth said it plans to update the kiosks so that they include smoking cessation tips, diabetes testing and programs for helping consumers enroll in health plans.

However, Mark Savage—a senior attorney for Consumers Union—warns that the kiosks could pose privacy risks. He says, "You have a situation where a patient is voluntarily disclosing information, which means there is no privacy protection, generally," adding, "They may not know if the information is being kept and might be used weeks or years after."

Stephen Kendig—chief commercial officer for SoloHealth—notes that the firm is not considered a covered entity under HIPAA and therefore is not required to meet the law's privacy standards. Moreover, Bart Foster, founder and CEO of SoloHealth, said that all personal data—except email addresses—obtained by the kiosks are aggregated and shared with SoloHealth sponsors without personal identifiers (Appleby, Kaiser Health News, 2/19).

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