Online technology has advanced tremendously during the past few years, allowing healthcare providers to provide top-of-the-line multimedia information systems in the form of the medical kiosk. This technology allows patients to check-in on their own, check their insurance or co-payment options, fill out forms, check their medication dosage and even perform non-invasive medical tests without assistance – all at the push of a touch screen panel. Paperwork can be totally eliminated, patient registration becomes a lot faster, and medical staff can shift their focus from administrative tasks to providing proper healthcare to their patients.
There are hundreds of millions of people who use the Internet and from these figures it can be estimated that each day, over 10 million Americans go online seeking health related information. As people become more informed they become more focused on health and wellness, and identifying ways they can receive proper healthcare. People are ready to make the extra effort to search for the highest quality and the most cost effective healthcare service available in the market.
The prohibitive costs of healthcare have caused hundreds of thousands of Americans to seek healthcare in other countries that foster medical tourism. These countries are popular for their very low cost of medical procedures, and patients appreciate the very little or no waiting time in the rendering of medical services. These factors cause a great deal of satisfaction to these travelers. Best of all, the quality of healthcare provided is comparable to that offered in the U.S. and may even exceed that of western countries.
The increasing popularity of medical tourism should serve as a wake up call for healthcare providers in the United States. The practices need to further improve the quality of healthcare and customer service that they currently offer their patients. While cost is a top factor, the long waiting time for medical service is another reason that drives patients in the U.S. to seek healthcare elsewhere. Healthcare providers can improve quality of service with the help of innovative medical kiosks.
Features and Applications of a Medical Kiosk
Similar to multimedia kiosks found in commercial establishments, a medical kiosk is a self-service information gateway that is designed specifically for hospitals, clinics and other healthcare services. The kiosk is interfaced with the providers existing electronic database or medical record system, allowing patients to check-in and check-out much faster and much more conveniently.
The patient or user interface is usually a touch screen or a keyboard connected to a computerized system that is also equipped with security cameras, card scanners and printers allowing a fully automated registration process. Similar to the kiosks found in commercial establishments, medical kiosks can be stand-alone units, placed on a countertop or can be mounted on a wall. Some advanced systems can even be mobile in the form of a tablet PC, allowing patients to conveniently check or fill-up required information and perform other functions.
The following are the basic applications for a medical kiosk, which medical establishments can apply according to their needs and structure.
- With a medical kiosk system, the patient can either check-in, make an appointment with their doctors, fill-up forms, select an appropriate room and check their insurance status or if there is a need, transact their co-payment collections using their credit cards. All these can be done in a self-service manner and without assistance from front desk personnel, thus reducing waiting times and improving the registration process significantly. Other features in a self-service patient check-in kiosk include:
- Patient information gathering through online forms/checklist
- Checking of patient health history
- Self-service appointment scheduling
- Informed consent forms
- Room assignment / finding your way in the hospital
- Patient satisfaction surveys
- Checking of payment options / co-payment collections through credit cards
- A medical kiosk can also be an information portal where patients can learn more personalized information about their diseases that they otherwise will not see in a single brochure. The system can show multimedia information and videos that were previously reviewed and approved by certified specialists in a particular field. These multimedia tools can be great vehicles to educate patients in order to gain awareness and understanding about certain diseases. Although face-to-face doctor-patient interaction cannot be replaced by videos, the time needed to educate patients can be greatly reduced relieving busy medical specialists and providers.
- Some medical kiosks are also designed to provide or dispense an unassisted, non-invasive medical testing kit which can immediately be retrieved, analyzed and recorded by the same system. This type of kiosk can be a very useful tool in screening or diagnosing new patient conditions, and it can help facilitate the monitoring of existing conditions. The following are some of the features of this unit:
- Dispense recyclable or disposable unassisted and non-invasive medical testing kits
- Dispense basic healthcare and medical items
- Perform test procedures using instruments installed (ex. Heart rate; blood pressure; etc)
- Analyze test results, make a preliminary diagnosis and provide status and information to patient
- Send a report of the results to a medical professional who will provide the final diagnosis
- Send report to the patient’s insurance company
- Include results in the patient’s electronic patient record (EPR) stored in the providers electronic medical record system
- Reclaim test kits, dispose non-reusable items and maintain hygiene by decontaminating itself before use by next patient
- Reusable test instrumentation parts and components will be sterilized before use by next patient
The Benefits of Having a Medical Kiosk
Having a fully-automated and fully integrated medical kiosk system that can process patient check-in, provide medical information, or dispense medical services can be very beneficial to practices, as it can:
- Reduce waiting time and improve customer service to deliver better patient care while allowing them to control their own healthcare experience
- Provide greater convenience and privacy to patients (particularly for those who prefer not to tell front desk personnel why they need to see the doctor), providing them the same self-service options that they enjoy in other industries
- Reduce costs through the elimination of paperwork, reduced overhead cost, and optimize staff time allocations from administrative to more patient-care related tasks
- Ensures data are accurate and compliant to HIPAA standards
- Streamline the workflow and increase the productivity in the medical procedure area, which will eventually be translated to increase revenue
Points to Consider While Choosing a Medical Kiosk System
There are certain considerations to make before purchasing a medical kiosk system for a clinic, hospital or medical practice. Some of these considerations are discussed here:
- The kiosk system that you intend to buy should be designed according to the patients stepping in your healthcare facility. Patients’ needs may range from faster check-in services, more informative healthcare education and training, or the ability to perform basic tests without assistance from staff.
- Choose the type of hardware that will be well-suited for the establishment. Larger space can allow stand-alone systems, while limited-sized practices can do better by accommodating wall-mounted kiosk or tablet PC’s.
- The medical kiosk system should have HIPAA compliant screens, including fully secured privacy protection of patient’s records and medical information. This includes privacy filters, secured patient identification systems, video monitors and recording systems.
- The kiosk should have multilingual support and interface for languages commonly used in your area of operation.
It is also important to note that the medical kiosk system should be user friendly and very easy to navigate, particularly for patients unfamiliar with multimedia technologies and computerized systems. These systems will ensure that your patients can receive good customer service and enjoy a more convenient and higher quality healthcare experience.