Verizon connects wellness kiosk, offers smart healthcare for free
You have probably used them before: the healthcare devices that look like bottomless cup holders you put your arm through to check blood pressure metrics at a pharmacy or even the grocery store. One of those machines, with the help of Verizon Wireless’s network, has been given significantly expanded functionality, according to a case study provided by the IoT M2M Council.
Pursuant Health‘s (formerly Solohealth) FDA-approved health and wellness retail kiosk, the Solohealth/Pursuant Station, offers consumers free interactive healthcare services at grocery stores. According to Pursuant Health, the kiosk is more than a machine; it’s an informational and educational platform that helps consumers “take charge of their health.”
A network of 3,600 self-service kiosks are located within 10 miles of 79% of the U.S. population, providing more than 10 million customer interactions, according to Frank Mayer and Associates. Customers can obtain screening information for blood pressure, vision, body-mass index, pain management and more. The kiosk provides a directory of local area physicians and health services by area of health concern.
It also advertises to users based on their specific symptoms, answers to questions, and both age and sex.
“We looked at private networks, installed solutions and third-party applications before finding out that we needed our own custom solution to manage the fleet,” said Robert Lort, Senior Director of Operations at Pursuant Health. “Our developers wrote our proprietary Kiosk Management System (KMS), which is responsible for maintaining various aspects of the fleet.”
The requirement to be connected
Pursuant Health was struggling to add new information and services, health screening modules, and to retrieve customer and operational information in a timely manner. Verizon Wireless used its network to provide wireless connectivity to help fulfill those goals. According to Verizon, the network helped Pursuant Health change and adapt services and information on the fly, update advertising messages, monitor consumers health and track developing health trends across the United States.
The design of the platform also allows Pursuant Health to sense if a customer is having trouble using the screening modules.
The Kiosk Management System provides security by preventing Pursuant Health software from being installed on unauthorized computers, and monitors locations and settings per kiosk or retailer as well as the version each kiosk is running. And the Kiosk Management System tool and wireless connectivity allow the company to push upgrades and configuration changes to their entire fleet with the push of a button.
Thanks to continuous monitoring, the Pursuant Health stations are maintained on an as-needed basis by a service provider for every break/fix event within 24 hours. Pursuant also performs quarterly preventative maintenance on the kiosks to ensure functionality, clean the device, as well as verify accuracy of the station. The SoloHealth Station is constantly monitored by support systems through the connectivity of the Verizon USB air cards. These support tools currently monitor the stations’ online status, hardware failures, usage statistics and software patches and upgrades.
A crowd pleaser
The multi-health screening concept has been well received by consumers, according to Verizon’s statistics. In mid-2012 the kiosks experienced nearly 25,000 uses daily, and by the end of the year that number climbed to nearly 65,000 uses per day.
“You will find yourself making changes to current processes and tools and then spending time to create new ones,” Lort said.
Lort credits the success of the SoloHealth Station to several key factors:
- Everyone (employees and business partners) works together to ensure the success of SoloHealth. A company cannot function without a great team that is driven to succeed
- Understanding your key objectives and goals and ensuring everyone’s activities are driven by them.
- Having the right tools in place to manage the entire fleet and being set up for scale. It’s easy to come up with a process or tool for a couple hundred units, but you have to think ahead and ask yourself, “Will this process work for 10,000 units? Can my system grow with the market?” If the answer is no, you must go back and rethink the process.
- Lastly, you have to have the manpower to deploy and support many kiosks in the field. Having the right partners in place will have a significant effect on your success. SoloHealth has competition in providing health screening to customers via large retail outlets. However, they haven’t been able to match SoloHealth’s production, installation and in-service capability. Currently, SoloHealth is producing between 50 to 100 kiosks per day, with a matching rate for installations and an equally strong record for operating effectiveness.