Health care and survey taking at the Big Box Store

imageWhere can you shop the health and beauty aisles, pick up some groceries and a prescription, get a flu vaccine, and weigh in on Obamacare and what digital health tools you like?

Why, at one of several thousand retail stores where you can find a SoloHealth kiosk.

As of yesterday afternoon, over 32 million encounters were recorded on SoloHealth kiosks, based on an app I saw on the company CEO Bart Foster’s smartphone. Kiosks are locatted around the United States in retailers including Walmart and Sam’s Clubs, along with major grocery chains like Schnuck’s and Publix, and the CVS pharmacy chain.

You can check your blood pressure, eye sight, weight, and other measures on the kiosk. And you can also “weigh in” (pardon the pun) on several survey questions the kiosks asks you after your health check-in. SoloHealth cycles many questions every day throughout the system, and recently polled people on their knowledge of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

64% of folks taking the SoloHealth survey said they had little or no knowledge of the ACA. 56% of people were unaware that the government could kick in for subsidies so people could pay for health insurance.

At the same time, most people say technology helps empower them and their health.

imageHealth Populi’s Hot Points: Bart Foster, SoloHealth CEO, shared data with me which illustrates that as people get older, their understanding of health reform and other health issues grows.

What was most disconcerting from these data is that only 33% of Hispanics polled via SoloHealth were aware of how the ACA might affect them. This finding is consistent with other sources recently published on ACA awareness.

A cynic might say that, well, perhaps many of the Hispanic people using the SoloHealth kiosk might not be eligible to take advantage of the health insurance markets due to the eligibility requirements listed here on the Healthcare.gov website.

Even if this should be the case, the White House health plan marketers have done a mediocre job, at best, doing social marketing the way it had to be done for this plan to attract the very people for whom it’s intended: un- and under-insured people in the U.S.

Most people taking the SoloHealth survey – which span age groups, from under 11 to over 65 years of age – feel that technology empowers their health. Online social networks, amplified through consumer and patient opinion leaders, and full-press retail marketinwould have helped bolster awareness, excitement, and self-efficacy today as the Health Insurance Exchanges launch.

SoloHealth is playing a new role in educating people on both health literacy and health reform awareness. Call it health insurance connector or informer. SoloHealth and other retail community touch points like Walmart marketing allies with insurance companies and Aetna working through Costco, are trying to reach people where we live, work, play, pray….and shop. They’re not called insurance “marketplaces” for nothing. People can shop for health insurance until March 31, 2013. We’ll be going slow to (hopefully) go fast…

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