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The Benefits of Installing a Healthcare Kiosk in Your Hospital

Healthcare kiosks are nothing new; patients have been using them to test blood pressure at pharmacies and other retailers for years. Advances in technology, though, have seriously expanded the capabilities of a healthcare kiosk. Today, these machines can help with patient check-in, take measurements like height and weight, perform vision tests, ask the patient questions about symptoms, and even connect the user with a live healthcare professional to answer questions.

The benefits of a healthcare kiosk are many, at a cost lower than a traditional exam.

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Medical Kiosk Features

These kiosks share the same basic features of other interactive, self-service kiosks, but are designed specifically for healthcare services. The provider's existing database and medical records interface with the kiosk's system, promoting simple, speedy patient check-out and check-in.

The units typically include a CPU, touch screen or keyboard (sometimes both), card scanner, and printer. They may also come with a security camera. Some are standalone units, while others mount on a surface such as a counter or table, or hang from the wall. Recently, mobile tablet units became available.

Healthcare Kiosk Capabilities

The capabilities of a healthcare kiosk are many. Which ones yours has is up to you, as customization is one of the features of the software powering the hardware.

Some ideas include:

  • Patient check-in and check-out
  • Appointment setting
  • Completing forms, such as patient information and informed consent
  • Checking insurance
  • Completing satisfaction surveys
  • Collecting payments
  • Providing educational information
  • Quick easy payment options, including outstanding bill notices

Really, the possibilities are enormous. You can upload videos and interactive media to help educate patients on chronic conditions and health risks. You can even provide physical items, such as non-invasive medical testing kits for immediate retrieval and analysis to aid in diagnosing and monitoring existing conditions. The machine then sends the results directly to the physician and the patient's EPR (electronic patient record), and then sets up an appointment if analysis suggests one.

Of course, they can still performer familiar tasks, such as monitoring blood pressure and heart rate.

Reduced Costs, Wait Time, and Errors

Self-service kiosks save both time and money. Completing paperwork electronically saves paper, printer ink, and all of the staff time needed to transform written records into electronic ones. Many of the administrative functions, as well as a few of the routine exam items, are taken care of by the kiosk. This frees up staff to provide better patient care.

Patients also spend less time waiting. What's more, the time they do spend waiting is more productive, since they're completing routine examinations, arranging payment, and verifying insurance coverage.

Finally, manual data entry of written forms to EHRs (electronic health records) is vulnerable to human error. Numbers become transposed and typos occur; it's a part of being human. Patients entering their own information electronically are far less likely to make those types of errors. In addition, this system ends duplicate records of consent forms and medical data, as it alerts staff if these records already exist in the patient's EHR.

Engaging the Patient

A healthcare kiosk helps engage the patient in his or her healthcare, promoting a greater level of patient involvement.

They also help ensure patients receive correct medical information. The Internet is a wonderful learning tool. However, as every medical professional knows, there is an enormous amount of faulty information online, with no way of knowing whether your patients access credible sources. In contrast, you know that the information provided by these kiosks is accurate.

When kiosks are placed in a remote location, they also help monitor patients with chronic conditions who aren't as compliant in self-care as they should be. Monitoring diabetes, for example, can include directions or video advice when the patient needs assistance outside of a scheduled appointment.

What to Consider

Before purchasing and installing a medical kiosk for your hospital, answer a few questions.

  • Is the system designed with your patients' needs in mind? Not every facility's patients have the same needs. Decide which features are most important, such as fast check-in, providing educational materials, and completing paperwork.
  • What type of hardware works best for your hospital? Do you need a large, standalone machine, or would a wall-mounted kiosk work best?
  • Does the kiosk include privacy screens and secure patient ID systems? If you want to remain HIPAA compliant, it should.
  • Does the system offer multilingual support for the languages your patients use most often?
  • Is the machine user friendly, intuitive, and simple to navigate? This is especially important with older patients who may not be as comfortable with technology.

Once you answer these questions, you are on your way to understanding what kind of healthcare kiosk your hospital needs.

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