Kiosks may improve self-management of health conditions in Georgia

A Personal Health Advisor kiosk is being piloted in Georgia's Early County by the Georgia Department of Community Health and Atlanta's National Health Museum. Residents can now access current, personalized health assessments.

The kiosk is located in the waiting area of the Blakely, GA-based Primary Care of Southwest Georgia. It is a freestanding digital system that allows users to access five health modules on healthy weight, diabetes prevention, blood pressure, vaccination, and sexual health. The kiosk is designed to be user-friendly for adults at all education levels, and for those with limited technology experience, according to DCS spokesperson Lisa Marie Shekell.

Users choose a health module of interest, enter non-identifiable demographic data, and answer health status questions. The kiosk's touch-prompt screen features two physician "tour guides" to help patients answer questions about their health and health knowledge.

Within several minutes, users receive a custom risk assessment printout, action-oriented tips for healthy living, and local and national health resources. To protect user privacy, no personal information is collected.

Early County was identified as an ideal location to launch the program because of the community's significant health care needs, the existence of strong community resources, and a growing health care service-delivery environment, says Ms. Shekell.

The goal is to empower health care consumers to make informed decisions about their health care and lifestyle habits. "The Personal Health Advisor kiosk is an innovative tool that utilizes user-friendly technology to bring health education and health risk assessments to a community in rural Georgia that is struggling with poor health outcomes," says Ms. Shekell.

The touch-prompt screen, plus the sight, sound, and motion used present an engaging user interface. "Plus, it's easy-to-use regardless of one's technology experience or education level," says Ms. Shekell.

Providers may find that access to the kiosk is a valuable resource for their patients, because it offers an opportunity to address their health issues. It will also serve as a patient education tool, by offering local citizens an opportunity to use technology to learn about healthier lifestyle choices and the conditions that disproportionately impact them, she says.

"The ultimate goal is to have a positive impact on health outcomes in the community, while introducing the benefits of health technology," says Ms. Shekell. "While future expansion depends upon the availability of funding resources, we have begun to identify ways to further utilize this technology to benefit both the provider and patient."

Increasing the variety of health modules reviewed on the Personal Health Advisor kiosk is one option. Other possible topics include electronic health records, pregnancy, student health, top-performing athletes, and nutrition.

"While we do not have current funding to launch a second Personal Health Advisor kiosk, we are exploring the potential of moving the kiosk for a temporary period of time to other communities across the state," says Ms. Shekell.

Contact Ms. Shekell at (404) 657-9118 or lshekell@dch.ga.gov.