Mayo, Hormel enter new health kiosk partnership

Published 10:39 am Thursday, October 15, 2015

AUSTIN — Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin has expanded its HealthSpot kiosk program to its biggest partner yet: Hormel Foods Corp.

Mayo will now allow Hormel employees and their dependents to connect with Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System providers through the Mayo Clinic Health Connection kiosks, which feature high-definition videoconferencing and interactive, digital medical devices.

“We are always looking for ways to offer our employees the best benefit resources possible,” said Tom Brown, assistant director of employee benefits at Hormel, in a press release. “These kiosks will allow our employees quick and convenient access to outstanding medical care from the staff at Mayo Clinic Health System.”

The goal is for Mayo and Hormel Foods employees to reduce healthcare costs and improve access tby using the kiosks. Mayo Clinic Health Connection is a telemedicine delivery system run through the HealthSpot platform. The health connection is administered through private, walk-in kiosks that offer care for patients in locations outside the typical medical center setting.

With the kiosks opening Tuesday to Hormel employees and their dependents, Ciota was pleased to be able to expand that service to Hormel workers.

“We’re very excited to now be able to offer this same high quality care to Hormel Foods employees as well, with the expectation it will help decrease absenteeism, lower costs and increase wellness,” Ciota said in the release.

The kiosk allows patients to meet with providers — whether it be a physician, nurse practitioner and physician assistant — via video connection to treat basic symptoms.

Up until now, the kiosks have only been open to medical center employees and Austin Public Schools employees and their dependents. The district and Mayo kicked off the partnership in March with the same goal of improving patients’ access to medical services, while also making it easier and more affordable.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin CEO Dr. Mark Ciota said that collaboration with Austin Public Schools has been received very positively.

“We’ve had wonderful results with the use of kiosks by Austin Public Schools employees and dependents,” Ciota said in a press release. “Patient satisfaction survey results from users of the kiosks indicate a 98 percent satisfaction rate, with most saying they will return to the kiosk for care. We’re very committed to reducing health care expenses for employees and employers by improving access to medical services through convenient and more affordable care with Mayo Clinic Health Connection.”

Usage varied over the summer from about one to three patients per day at the kiosks, but medical center staff expected the low utilization was due to gaps in coverage over the summer. They expected that to increase now that school is back in session and Hormel can now use the kiosks.

Hormel, medical center and school district staff — along with their dependents — will make for an estimated 12,400 people eligible to use the kiosks.

The kiosks are located at three different locations: one at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin on the second floor North Clinic, one at Ellis Middle School, and one at 408 Fourth Ave. NW, Austin.

Thus far, patient satisfaction surveys have revealed the kiosks are a favorable alternative to standard care options, according to clinic officials. Medical Center Staff will continue evaluating Mayo Clinic Health Connection before long-term decisions regarding care at the kiosks will likely be made in mid-2016.