Pacific Gas and Electric Co. unveiled Tuesday a telemedicine kiosk in its downtown Fresno office that will connect sick employees with a doctor in minutes to talk about their symptoms and get a diagnosis and treatment.
The virtual kiosk, a desk with camera and video monitor in a small private room, even has biometric devices to take body temperature, blood pressure and zoom into skin rashes to help doctors determine what’s wrong.
The employee doesn’t have to wait for an appointment or go to the emergency room for care.
“It’s super cool,” said manager Melisa Morales. “We have the ability to come and have something checked out so we can save time (and money).”
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PG&E had the stations installed in seven of its office locations statewide as a convenience for employees who lose work and personal time traveling to and from appointments and waiting for care.
For $4.90, employees with Anthem Blue Cross health insurance can use the kiosk to talk to a doctor for advice and even get medication prescribed and electronically ordered to a local pharmacy.
“There’s a limit to what exam I can do,” said Dr. Christine Chen, a doctor in the telemedicine program who was part of a demonstration at PG&E. “But for a lot of the easy things like a UTI (urinary tract infection) or a cold,” it saves patients a trip to a clinic.
“You don’t have to be exposed to all sorts of things and other people don’t have to be exposed to you when you’re sick,” Chen said. “I think now, in our society, everybody wants convenience. They want care when they want it and how they want it…now you don’t have to leave your home. You can just call in.”
The most common problems Chen has seen or heard about from virtual patients in recent weeks are colds – runny noses, stuffy noses, coughs – urinary infections, food poisoning, and minor infections with diarrhea and vomiting.
Employee Joe Sanchez is excited to use the kiosk for small ailments like a cold. Work and after-school activities with his children keep him busy.
“Anything major I can go to the doctor, but a prescription for a sore throat” through the kiosk is handy, Sanchez said.
“It’s a good tool for everyday life,” Sanchez said. “It’s a nice option.”