The Mayo Clinic has announced it is extending its virtual-visit pilot program by putting kiosks in a public school in its home state of Minnesota. The kiosks allow patients to visit with a physician via a video hookup, and to interact with the physician through built-in medical devices such as an otoscope.
The health system will place its kiosks, from kiosk-maker partner HealthSpot, in a middle school in Austin, Minn. That will allow school employees to see Mayo Clinic doctors in a convenient, lower-cost fashion, and so should reduce absenteeism costs for the school, argued Dr. Mark Ciota, CEO of the Albert Lea and Austin, Minn., sites of the Mayo Clinic system.
The move is an expansion from the early stages of the pilot, which were focused on kiosk use by Mayo Clinic employees on its Albert Lea and Austin campuses.
Interest in virtual visits has grown in recent days. A Kaiser Permanente executive noted recently that more than half of visits in many of the system's regions are now virtual, for example.
Video-visit startups, such as American Well, Doctors on Demand and Teladoc, raised major sums of money in 2014, well over $100 million between those three firms.
And Google is piloting its own video-visit service with Scripps Health, based in San Diego.
Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir