John Carroll University has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic and HealthSpot to provide cutting-edge telemedicine technology to students.
Last November, the JCU Health and Wellness Center welcomed a new addition – a 9 by 5 foot white and blue pod, sporting a sleek, modern look.
This pod, called the Cleveland Clinic HealthSpot station, allows patients to participate in a one-on-one videoconference lasting about 20 minutes with a Cleveland Clinic physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner from the Beachwood and Independence locations.
JCU is the first college or university in the country to use this type of medical, videoconferencing technology.
Currently, Cleveland Clinic HealthSpot is available to students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This videoconference exam is similar to any other medical examination. The physician can check your pulse, listen to your heart, look inside your ears and throat and much more.
According to Jan Krevh, director of the Student Health and Wellness Center, HealthSpot was brought to campus so students could have access to a top medical provider on campus that could fully evaluate students and write prescriptions on the days physicians are not on campus.
“We used to always have to send students off-campus for a sore throat, rash, earaches and so on, since physicians only came twice a week,” said Krevh. “Now, students have easy access to a medical exam on campus during more hours and days of the week.”
Krevh first learned about HealthSpot – a company based in Dublin, Ohio – when she read an article back in 2012, shortly after the company was formed.
“I thought this would be one way to solve the problem about not having a physician here full time,” said Krevh. “I started talking to HealthSpot, but it was very new, very limited at the time. They had maybe three or four stations. We were remodeling at that point, so we weren’t ready for it yet, anyways. However, we built space for it in the Health and Wellness Center because we knew we wanted to at least try it.”
In the meantime, Krevh reached out to both HealthSpot and the Cleveland Clinic, researching to see if the station would fit the campus’ needs.
“I asked the Cleveland Clinic what their view was on telemedicine conferencing, and whether or not they thought it was a good way to provide healthcare,” Krevh explained.
Dr. Theresa Lash-Ritter, Cleveland Clinic Medical Director of Urgent and Express Care Clinics, was both supportive and excited to bring this type of telemedicine to campus.
“The goal of the HealthSpot station and telemedicine is to bring affordable and accessible healthcare to wherever people are in everyday life,” said Lash-Ritter. “I think one of the reasons we were most excited about bringing this to a campus environment is that a lot of students are not near their hometown, and that can make it difficult to access healthcare conveniently when they’re not feeling well.”
VP of Marketing for HealthSpot, Lisa Maughan, also explained that access to care for college students can be difficult. “Students have a much different schedule than your average 8 to 5 care provider can provide. Their schedules are busy, so it’s all about bringing the care to the students rather than having the students come to the care.”
“We really do think we’re providing a great service for everyone at John Carroll by making healthcare convenient,” added Lash-Ritter.
Although some may fear they’re losing the personal attention or accuracy they receive in the doctor’s office, Lash-Ritter assures patients that the care is still top-notch.
“It really is not as impersonal as you may think,” said Lash-Ritter. “Sometimes, in a patient’s room, I’m typing on the computer and I don’t always have a chance to maintain eye contact. With the videoconferencing, I’m able to maintain eye contact with the patient throughout the appointment.”
She added that the appointment doesn’t lack accuracy. “Inaccuracy is not something we accept at the Cleveland Clinic.”
Maughan echoed Lash-Ritter, saying all of the devices in the station are up-to-date and have been approved by multiple physicians through tests and case studies as well as the FDA.
“HealthSpot is a platform where we can incorporate all the new latest and greatest technology as it comes out on the market and is approved by the FDA,” said Maughan. “We can constantly add and improve as we go along.”
So far, HealthSpot has received a 96 percent satisfaction rate from patients.
Once the Cleveland Clinic approved the idea, Krevh met with the Clinic and HealthSpot, as well as JCU administration.
“We had a lot of meetings, phones calls and emails,” Krevh explained. “Sherri Crahen, the dean of students, and Mark McCarthy, vice president of student affairs, were supportive, and very much involved in the meetings.”
After the contract was signed, the station came to JCU the second week of November. During this time, all of the registered nurses at the Health and Wellness Center went through training to be medical attendants.
“The RNs in the office will serve as medical attendants for the time being,” said Krevh. “Basically, they’re the people who work at the desk outside of the station, help patients check in and assist them with the equipment during the examination. The attendant also sanitizes the station after every visit.”
The station opened for business about a week later. As of late January, about five students have used JCU’s Cleveland Clinic HealthSpot station.
Visits in the Cleveland Clinic HealthSpot are reimbursed by most major insurance plans, and patients pay the same co-pay as they would for a regular medical examination.
In addition to JCU, HealthSpot has around 20 stations across seven health systems in four states including the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Marc’s Pharmacy, University Hospitals, Miami Children’s Hospital and Kaiser Permanente. Currently, HealthSpot is partnering with Rite Aid Pharmacy to launch stations in April.
If students have positive feedback, Krevh hopes to expand HealthSpot’s hours to evenings and weekends, as well as making it available to both faculty and staff.
As the first college or university to have a HealthSpot station, both Cleveland Clinic and HealthSpot believe JCU will be a leader in telemedicine.
“This is something that will be an option for other campuses,” said Lash-Ritter. “I believe other colleges will look and see how successful it is, and look at JCU as a trendsetter.”