Bread, Milk, Eggs... Diagnosis? Telemedicine For Sale at Tx. Grocery Stores

Seth Augenstein
AUGUST 28, 2019
Telehealth
(photo courtesy of Reliant Immune Diagnostics)

The supermarket: where you find food, beverages, hygiene products, and other must-have items.

Soon, you can add a doctor’s visit, plus prescribed treatment, into your shopping cart.

The service MDBox has struck a deal with the Texas supermarket chain H-E-B. The two companies said shoppers can purchase a single doctor visit from the store’s pharmacy counter. That visit entails a complete medical visit that takes place on an app on the purchaser’s phone for less than $50—no insurance necessary.

The two companies say the MDBox offering will change healthcare delivery the way Uber changed the way people commute, and the way Amazon changed retail.

Indeed, experts have told Inside Digital Health™ that healthcare needs to find a way to reach out to patients and provide care proactively, through outreach.

The MDBox model appears to do just that.

The doctor can prescribe medication, if needed, through the video app “visit.”

The hypothetical: someone who comes down with sore throat on the weekend and knows they likely have strep throat they’ve had before. But instead of going to an urgent care, spending hours to see the doctor on-call, and paying potentially hundreds of dollars once an antibiotic prescription is filled, they instead walk out of the H-E-B with the necessary medication in less than 30 minutes.

First, the patient would answer some questions about their symptoms, and then they would be connected to the video chat. 

“The doctor visit is complete in less than 30 minutes, for under $50,” according to the MDBox announcement. “They’ll be able to get a prescription if one is needed. No insurance necessary, no appointment needed and no hidden fees!”

Joe Carter, a spokesman for the Reliant Immune Diagnostics which markets MDBox, said the pilot program will be in 80 of the 275 H-E-B stores. It will make use of 100 providers in Texas, he added. 

The pilot also follows a previous pilot found in Walmart stores, Carter added.

The H-E-B deal with MDBox is not the first of its kind.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center system partnered in a similar way with Giant Eagle, a major supermarket chain in western Pennsylvania, at the end of last year. Those telemedicine kiosks—equipped with blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, pulse oximeters and otoscopes—were originally planned to be in three of the Giant Eagle stores, Inside Digital Health™ reported at the time. At those Pennsylvania grocery stores, like their Texas counterparts, the services are linked to the pharmacies. Though the cost of a visit to the Pittsburgh kiosks will vary depending on insurance, the maximum cost is capped at $49, they said at the time.



 
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