More than 3,500 sites
According to the ATA, there are currently 200 telemedicine networks operating in the United States using more than 3,500 sites. The association estimates that 50% of U.S. hospital networks now use some form of telemedicine and that in 2011, the Veterans Health Administration alone delivered 300,000 remote consultations for military veterans.
When telemedicine was launched a decade ago, the idea was to provide care for people in rural areas with limited access to medical specialists. The basic concept was to set up a video-conferencing system—often using a computer webcam—inside a doctor's office or health clinic to put patients in direct contact with specialists without needing to visit them in person.
Rite Aid's venture with NowClinic shows healthcare providers are ready to apply the telemedicine model to settings outside of a physician's office or hospital.
Merging technology with convenience
Another company looking to expand telemedicine into new venues is HealthSpot. The Dublin, Ohio–based technology firm unveiled its HealthSpot Station kiosk at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas after more than a year of testing the system with several healthcare providers in Ohio.
The 8-foot by 5-foot enclosed kiosks come equipped with a touch-screen monitor, audio system, and high definition TV screens, allowing patients to conduct a virtual visit with a physician.