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‘It’s the right thing to do’: KTA kicks off new telemedicine service this week at Puainako store

‘It’s the right thing to do’: KTA kicks off new telemedicine service this week at Puainako store

KTA Super Stores dives deeper into the digital age this week with the introduction of “virtual clinics of the future.”

Shoppers in need of medical checks for scrapes, respiratory ailments, urinary infections, colds, sunburns or prescription refills can connect through iPad telemedicine.

“We’re giving it a try and see if it works — we think it will,” said KTA CEO Barry Taniguchi.

The system, offered as a convenience for customers rather than a moneymaker, allows a customer to connect with a doctor via DOCNow(http://docnowhawaii.com/conditions-we-treat/).

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Toby Taniguchi, KTA president. He noted in a separate statement that grocery stores have evolved to offer a wider range of customer service.

Shoppers at KTA who want to get a telemedicine check will get a computer tablet at the pharmacy and a private space to connect, Barry Taniguchi said.

To do that, the customer drops off a drivers license or credit card, signs on and gets welcoming texts from a receptionist. The receptionist signs the patient in and makes sure health insurance and other details get updated. Then, the patient goes into a “virtual waiting room” until a physician appears online.

“All of our doctors are licensed and located on the island,” said Anna Covert, a public relations representative speaking for DOCNow Virtual HealthCare, which handles the medical calls.

The telemedicine service kicks off this week at KTA’s Puainako Center store in Hilo. But Barry Taniguchi said it eventually will expand to Waimea, Keauhou and Waikoloa Village. Patients of all ages can be seen during normal pharmacy hours.

Email Jeff Hansel jhansel@tribune-herald.com.