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2015 Up-and-Comer: HealthSpot: Rethinking the Retail Experience

July 7, 2015
by David Raths
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To accompany our Healthcare Informatics 100 list of the largest companies in U.S. health information technology every year, we like to give readers a heads-up on some fast-growing companies that could very well make the HCI 100 in years to come. In fact, one of the companies we chose as an Up-and-Comer in 2014, Evolent Health, recently registered for a $100 million initial public offering.

Some of the firms in this group may not have much revenue yet, but their growth trajectory suggests they could have a significant impact on the healthcare sector. Others are coming at seemingly intractable problems in healthcare from completely new angles. Keep your eye on these six.

Many healthcare IT startups have a personal healthcare story behind them. The Dublin, Ohio-based HealthSpot is one of those. Five years ago, Steve Cashman, a successful IT entrepreneur, took his daughter to a CVS mini-clinic with swimmer’s ear and was then sent to an urgent-care clinic, and neither experience was great, he says. The process got him thinking about the whole ecosystem of telehealth, retail pharmacies and health systems.

“I started thinking about what was driving these retail guys to put healthcare services in their stores and yet none of them could take care of this simple situation my family had,” recalls Cashman. “So I was interested in how you get the quality of the health system into a retail store and combine those worlds. It led us on a journey to create software to could facilitate remote visit with managed devices.”

Steve Cashman

Studying the issue, he found that physicians say that telehealth as it was practiced didn’t allow them to look at the ear, nose and throat, or take blood pressure and temperature. They were just doing video chats, which didn’t complete the visit, and insurers were reluctant to pay for them. Cashman’s response was to create a kiosk for use in retail spaces that includes a video meeting with a clinician, but also features a blood pressure monitor, a scale, a thermometer, a stethoscope, an otoscope, a pulse oximeter and a magnascope to look at skin or the back of the throat. An attendant is always available to help the patient on-site.

Cashman says key turning points for the startup were in 2013 when it was able to arrange year-long pilot projects with Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, University Hospitals and Miami Children’s Hospital. “Right away we had a swath of prestigious health systems and two of the top five,” he says.  “And the data that came back was the same across all of them: 99 doctor satisfaction and 98 percent patient satisfaction.” All of the health systems that piloted use of HealthSpot kiosks have expanded their use since then, he added.

“The next magic moment is that we won a deal with Rite Aid,” he says. “We always wanted to be in the retail pharmacy space, but we wanted to have clinical efficacy first.” The company recently rolled out its kiosks in 25 Ohio Rite Aid stores linked to four health systems, including Cleveland Clinic, Kettering, University Health and Rainbow Babies. “We are one of the first doing pediatrics in a retail setting and are seeing great uptake with that,” he says. “We want to get in about 15,000 of the 60,000 pharmacies in America.”

In 2014, Xerox made an investment of an undisclosed amount in HealthSpot, and has partnered with the company on data integration with EHR and billing systems.

The company recently beefed up its executive team as well. Gail Borgatti Croall, M.D., was named chief medical officer. She previously served as senior vice president and CMO for Anthem Inc. and OptumHealth, a UnitedHealth company. New chief operating officer Bruce Roberts served as the CEO of the National Community Pharmacist Association and co-founded SureScripts, a company focused on facilitating the connection between prescribers and pharmacies for the provision of electronic prescribing.

Although HealthSpot doesn’t disclose revenue figures, it has grown from five locations in 2013 to 20 in 2014, Cashman says, and is aiming to close this year with more than 100 locations.

Cable giant Cox Communications also has invested in the company with an eye on how the platform could potentially be used for in-home visits as well. “We see a path to delivering the software and connected devices in the home,” Cashman says.