OPPORTUNISTIC SCREENING TO HEAD OFF OBESITY

Updated: Jan 26

A New Zealand home grown business is at the cutting edge of developing self-use health kiosks for hospitals, medical centres, pharmacies and workplaces supplying companies both here and overseas.


“The Health Kiosk is a simple concept done well – a self-use kiosk that offers a range of biometric measurements such as weight, height, Blood pressure and O2 all rolled into one easy-to-use system,” says Angela Alvarado.

Included in the system are some simple screening questions and it is the first health kiosk in the world to offer the automatic measurement of child growth BMI percentiles based on World Health Organisation recommendations married to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health standards.


“Our clients enjoy significant benefits from having a health kiosk both in terms of staff time savings and raising a patient’s awareness of their risk of obesity or high blood pressure or indicating to a parent that their child is at risk of obesity.


“The Health Kiosk is impartial, the user gets a printout in black-and-white which they will usually show the pharmacist or doctor and ask, “What does this mean?”. It opens up a patient-driven conversation that is often hard for a medical practitioner to initiate.”


New Zealand’s growing obesity problem could benefit from the opportunistic screening of a child’s BMI growth percentile, as statistics show we have one of the highest child obesity rates. Most countries run child measurement programs that monitor a child’s BMI every year while they are at school, offering parents education if the child is at risk of obesity – but not in New Zealand. “We don’t do mandatory weight screening in children after the age of four, and we should. It would be less expensive to prevent a child from becoming obese than to treat the health and social issues that accompany adult obesity.”


In terms of staff time savings the health kiosk has proven invaluable. “The child measurement system was developed for Middlemore Kids 1st ED who needed to reduce the time it took to measure every child entering the ED. Our health kiosk now saves staff 4 mins 40 seconds per child. It takes three seconds to measure an adult and 17 seconds for a child. For Middlemore, the process had to be fast, and the results had to align with the Ministry of Health target range against the WHO recommendations.”


The Health Kiosk business is not new to Alvarado. She has been supplying them since 1994. “We’ve learnt over the years what works and what to avoid. Our health kiosks are designed and developed here in New Zealand and our depth of knowledge gives us the ability to customise health kiosks to meet a customer’s needs”. They’ve fully customised kiosks for Middlemore Kidz First ED, Waikato Hospital, and Southern Cross Health Society which had an integrated mobile solution for workplace screening.


“At Waikato Hospital and Southern Cross, the measurement results are fully integrated directly back into the patient’s record and in medical practices that use the Indici practice management system the results are transferred using a QR code. For medical centres using other practice management software the results are recorded directly from the printout into the patients record.”


The health kiosks can also be customised at the screen to include New Zealand’s mandatory health questions around smoking, with the option to add COVID-19 symptoms screening questions. Even the screen graphics can be customised to reflect a client’s brand, logo or colour scheme.

A health kiosk in the Bay of Plenty demonstrated its value with blood pressure. “A patient used a health kiosk to check their blood pressure. It was through the roof. Off to the GP who didn’t quite believe it. Re-did the blood pressure. Same reading. Patient into hospital with results showing he had Myocarditis.” There have been plenty of similar stories over the years.


Health Kiosks are offered to medical centres and hospitals on a rental basis which includes full service. Clients include the Stennis Space Centre at NASA; Universal Studios; the district health boards of Waitemata, Counties Manukau, Waikato and Bay of Plenty; Grace Hospital; Southern Cross hospitals; Southern Cross Health Society; Selwyn District Council; Vodafone; Auckland City Council; and numerous medical centres and pharmacies nationwide.