Senior News: Health Booth Can’t Replace Doctor
Coming to a Walmart or Sam’s Club near you: a self-service health booth. SoloHealth Stations are interactive kiosks that could keep you from going to your doctor for proper medical care.
There, I’ve said it. I’m against them.
Here’s how they work: You sit at a machine and answer questions about your lifestyle, what you eat and the health of family members. You get cuffed and have your blood pressure checked. Weigh in and get your eyes checked. Learn your BMI — body mass index. Get advice on vitamins and pain management and heartburn. (How convenient that the machine will even tell you what aisle the vitamins are on.)
One-stop health monitoring, say those who are responsible for putting these machines in Walmarts.
But is a machine going to notice if you’re looking a bit pale? While it’s taking your blood pressure, will it also listen to your heart and notice just the faintest little blip that shouldn’t be there? How do you ask it questions?
And what of privacy? You’ll enter a lot of personal information into the machine when you sit down for your do-it-yourself health exam. Where does that information go? Down the road, those same machines will be able to assess your diabetes risk, enroll you in a medical-care policy and who knows what else. There is a proposal to let these machines help you diagnose whether you have high cholesterol — and even pick up an over-the-counter drug for it.
Make yourself a promise: If you’re tempted to use one of these health kiosks, go ahead, but send the results to your doctor. It’s one thing to play with high-tech toys. It’s quite another to turn your health over to an electronic gadget without any human medical intervention.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.