Startup unveils telemedicine kiosk with automated pharmacy

What if you could easily drop a small doctor’s office on a street corner, with staff available 24/7? Or on a college campus, or in an airport? Or even on the back of a truck?

That’s what OnMed aims to do, only virtually: its interactive telemedicine kiosk contains private video booths that allow physicians to remotely take vital signs and diagnose conditions, and includes a robotic minipharmacy that can dispense medications.

After six years of development and operating in stealth mode, the startup says its self-contained medical unit is designed to be set up almost anywhere. The station can provide life-size, eye-level consultations via large video screens—with high-definition and thermal cameras allowing a doctor to inspect patients’ eyes, ears, nose and throat, or any skin lesions, for example—plus hardware for measuring their height, weight and blood pressure.

“When it comes to delivering a comprehensive doctor/patient encounter via telemedicine, sometimes our phone just isn’t the answer,” OnMed founding partner and CEO Austin White said in a statement. “We need the accuracy provided by a live face-to-face visit using the latest diagnostic tools, and the ability to receive medication all in one sitting.”

The station's robotic pharmacy arm. (OnMed)

OnMed estimates that visits will take fewer than 15 minutes and cost less than walking into a clinic or emergency room. Between patients, the booths can sanitize themselves using ultraviolet light, with field maintenance staff providing more thorough cleanings.

Common medications are dispensed from an automated vault, which can also provide paper or electronic scripts for other pharmacies if something is out of stock. Initially, OnMed will not prescribe any scheduled drugs, the Clearwater, Florida-based company said.

OnMed’s first-run stations are designed to be housed indoors, such as at medical centers or in the workplace, and can carry the branding of different hosts or service providers.

Outdoor and mobile units are still under development, and the company says it's currently in high-level talks with health systems, universities and major airports for the placement of its units, with the first going live later this year.