A Look Back at SoloHealth
Nice April Fools poke by Bart Foster on LinkedIn proclaiming thousands of deployments of SoloHealth vision screening units. Solohealth was (and still sort of is) a super major project, and there are lots of stories around the project. Included is one from the 2008 KioskCom Expo and Digital Signage Show in Vegas. We worked on the kiosk (original engineering, design and manufacture) while at Kiosk Information Systems. The software initially was done by Netkey. Shortly after the award, Netkey was able to point to this project and sell itself for a pretty penny to NCR (Dusty Lutz managed) before eventually vanishing. Here is old NCR page, datasheet and 2009 press release. It should be mentioned that Dell played a big role in this project. Not sure how downstream that played with NCR.
Excerpt from his LinkedIn post
The vision kiosks check near and distance visual acuity, educate people on the important of eye health, and if necessary, suggest nearby eye doctors where a comprehensive eye exam can be administered.
APRIL FOOLS! ⚡️🎉
Believe it or not, this picture was taken in April of 2008 — 15 yrs ago. Despite having the right technology, the right regulatory approvals, the right team, and the right partners, the vision kiosk didn’t scale. As the Founder & CEO of SoloHealth, I was devastated and felt like a failure. 👎🏻
What I believed was “inevitable” was met with resistance from powerful associations, representing independent eye doctors, who worried the kiosks were going to replace them.
Instead of giving up, SoloHealth (now Pursuant Health) kept pushing. We added blood pressure, body mass index, and a series of health risk assessments; creating the SoloHealth Station. Eventually we scaled nationwide.
For all the innovators trying to bring disruptive technology to market, keep pushing and “Accelerate the Inevitable” 🚀
- There is no substitute when dealing with a very complex project for using an extremely competent engineering and design company (in this case Kiosk Information Systems).
Back Stories from KioskCom (feel free to send us your own)
Craig Keefner – one of my favorite stories is the Awards competition and Solohealth. The company I worked (Kiosk Information Systems) for did the initial engineering, design and manufacture. We entered the Solohealth unit in the competition for Best of Show. It was 30 minutes before the judges were due to stop by and one of the LCDs inside failed. The eye diagnosis mech was actually two LCDs, one external and one internal which is really cool. Anyway, I needed a 17″ Dell LCD and needed it badly. I scanned the show floor and spotted one unattached on the Eloutouch/SITA counter with nobody around. I grabbed it, left a short note, and ran to the booth where we furiously installed it and 30 seconds after we finished — the judges showed up. Bart Foster was ecstatic. We won first place…
Original RFP excerpt
SoloHealth LLC (“SoloHealth™”), is an early stage company positioned to capitalize on the growing consumer preference for self-directed health care services. SoloHealth™ is commercializing technology originally developed within Ciba Vision, a Novartis company. SoloHealth’s inaugural product, EyeSite™, is an interactive kiosk that provides a free customized vision report and then directs consumers to an eye care professional nearby. For more information about SoloHealth, please visit www.solo-health.com.
SoloHealth invites your company (“you” or “your” or “Candidate”) to participate in a Request-for-Proposal (“RFP”) for Kiosk manufacturing services to SoloHealth and its affiliated companies (see Appendix “A” for affiliate definition).
SoloHealth wishes to engage suppliers to partner with to manufacturing the EyeSite™ product line of kiosks (“EyeSite” Gen 4.0) for the U.S. and potential for global distribution. These kiosks will be placed in across the nation starting in one geography and placed in multiple classes of trade (i.e. mass merchandiser, malls, drug store, hospital, etc.). A staggered national geographic rollout of kiosks is initially anticipated. The kiosks will incorporate software developed by Netkey, remotely monitored and control via the Netkey platform and networked via Netkey’s manager software platform.
Information necessary for you to review and respond to this RFP is provided below.
Alex Richardson — Thx Craig-a fun project with Bart–a true visionary. A lot of smart people in NYC and Silicon Valley work on fixing “small” problems. This Self Service Vision Solution attacked a “big” problem in the eye care marketplace.
Robert Ventresca — Hi Craig – all is well here, hope same for you. Bart notes that the Solohealth vision screening kiosk program had all the right management, components and partners. Looking back on some of the other projects we at Netkey (and others in the industry) were involved in during that time, it’s pretty clear that many of the kiosk initiatives that didn’t take off were likely just a bit ahead of their time in the pre-smartphone age. If you think of a kiosk as a publicly-accessible, multi-user app (detached from a phone), folks are much more familiar with the self-service workflow paradigm to accomplish a task today than in the early 2000’s. Not to say there weren’t successful kiosk projects then, it just wasn’t as widespread as expected. I used a kiosk at Mcdonald’s today to order my Filet-O-Fish for lunch on Good Friday. That would have been unheard of in a high-volume fast-food restaurant in 2008!
ATLANTA – April 29, 2008 – At the recent KioskCom Self Service Expo in Las Vegas, SoloHealth walked away a clear winner in the eyes of the self-service industry. They achieved an admirable “hat trick” of awards, being recognized by industry judges for the Best Healthcare Deployment, Best New Innovation, and Best in Show Awards for their self-service vision-testing kiosk. These awards are judged by a team of 12 seasoned deployers from Amtrak to Wal-Mart, and are scrutinized very carefully in terms of business model concept, application software, and kiosk hardware design and performance.
“We were very pleased, but not at all surprised, to see SoloHealth’s EyeSite kiosk so enthusiastically recognized at this event, said Tom Weaver, CMO for KIOSK Information Systems (manufacturer of EyeSite). KIOSK sees literally hundreds of new self-service applications, and this one is definitely a stand-out on many levels. The application is clearly compelling, valuable, and intuitive to consumers positioning it for very quick adoption and high usage rates. Further, SoloHealth has executed a textbook example of ROI acceleration by coupling strategic digital signage advertising with their primary interactive consumer application.”
Utilizing a third overhead digital signage screen, the kiosk draws consumers with informative video, attract loops, and in-store offers from participating vision care ad sponsors. A laser printer incorporated into the kiosk provides consumers with their customized test results, a call to action for booking an eye care appointment, and printed coupons for vision care products. “Incorporating these application elements that provide immediate consumer value ensure an attractive return for advertisers and sponsors, and ultimately the retail placement location,” said Bart Foster, CEO and Founder for SoloHealth. “Aside from the primary goals of educating consumers on the importance of eye health and encouraging regular exams, SoloHealth has answered the underlying demand of incorporating quick ROI for everyone involved in a given deployment location.”
Evidently SoloHealth investors agree on the profit viability of this model, having just granted an additional $1.8M in seed funding to the Atlanta based company. “It’s an exciting time for SoloHeath, receiving such strong endorsements from investors, retailers, consumers, and now self-service industry experts,” added Foster.
I have experience leading public and private companies in the U.S. and Europe, both as an entrepreneur and intrapreneur; with a focus on innovation at the intersection of: consumer, technology & retail.
I work to bridge the gap between large multinational companies that want to be more innovative, and early-stage ventures that need the resources, capital and expertise of the large corporations.
While working at Novartis I was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year for developing a new business venture, which became SoloHealth (now Pursuant Health).
Prior to working at Novartis I was a Director for Peachtree Network, a successful Internet start-up based in Montreal, Canada. While there, the Company had an IPO on the Canadian Venture Exchange. I began my career with Kellogg’s in consumer marketing and sales.
I am a Father, Husband, IRONMAN Triathlete, Florida Gator and active in Young Presidents Organization (YPO). My wife Aly and I have two kids and I enjoy all things outdoors: Hiking, Cycling, backcountry skiing, open water swimming.
So What About These Days?
From Pursuant Health — With a network of over 4,600 health kiosks located in high-traffic retail pharmacies throughout the country, we enable people to regularly check in with their health when it is convenient for them. Our kiosks are HIPAA-Compliant, FDA-Cleared Class II Medical Devices that provide free biometric screenings and clinically-valid health assessments to help people understand personal health risks and track metrics over time.
- SoloHealth Cleveland Clinic Wellness Collaboration, Changes Name
- Healthcare Kiosks – SoloHealth raises $2.4M + Cleveland Clinic
- Kiosk Tradeshow KioskCom Comes To End
- Self-Check Hearing Screening Kiosks Going Into Giant Eagle
- Kiosk Tradeshow KioskCom Comes To End(Opens in a new browser tab)
- Autonomous Store – KIOSK and UST AI Vision Checkout(Opens in a new browser tab)
- Zipdrug & CityMD Go Uber & Revolutionize Prescription Delivery(Opens in a new browser tab)