05 Jun Pursuant Health Teams with TeraNova for IoT Deployment
Pursuant Health is a health and wellness organization with a unique multi-channel platform – web, mobile and health kiosks – that captures and integrates healthcare related data to promote healthy behavior and improve outcomes for consumers.
Pursuant’s self-service kiosks provide health assessments, incentive management, coaching and biometric screenings such as blood pressure, pulse and body mass index (BMI), and a patented visual acuity test.
Pursuant has deployed about 3,600 kiosks in retail pharmacies and healthcare settings across the country, engaging over 30 million users annually.
That is a compelling value proposition for health plan providers, employers and marketers of consumer health products. To cite just one example, Anthem BlueCross Medi-Cal recently partnered with Pursuant to launch a pilot program that rewards members with Walmart gift cards for getting annual eye exams.
By launching the program and providing direct financial incentives to get retinal screenings, Anthem BlueCross Medi-Cal hopes to combat a diabetes epidemic developing in California. More than half of California’s population has diabetes or is at risk for developing the disease, which can lead to serious health issues including loss of vision.
Other organizations use Pursuant’s kiosks to deliver highly targeted interventions to users based on a set of customized pre-qualifications such as questions, responses, demographics information and biometrics measurements. And some simply use them to launch products and raise awareness through digital advertising campaigns.
The kiosks are essentially one-stop shops for individualized healthcare engagement and incentivization. Users can log in, view information from past visits, do a screening to get a health assessment and learn recommendations for mitigating potential risks – and forward all of the information to their personal email. Indeed the network of kiosks is doing a tremendous service to both the public and healthcare industry. But it can’t work without reliable and cost-efficient Internet of Things (IoT) technology – and that’s where TeraNova enters the picture.
Pursuant has deployed about 2,700 health kiosks in Walmart stores across the country and is in the process of installing another 1,900. The 2,700 kiosks that are already deployed each use a USB cellular modem with a carrier-specific SIM card to reach the Internet via Verizon or AT&T, depending on which carrier offers the best signal strength and cost-benefit from market to market.
Early on, everything worked well but as time passed and the network of kiosks grew, three challenges emerged:
- The USB modems started failing. Pursuant purchased replacements but they were becoming obsolete and soon would not be supported by carriers.
- When carriers made network updates or when kiosks were relocated within a store, signal strength could change. Sometimes the connection would become weak enough to take the kiosk offline and there was no intelligence built in to auto-reconnect. Also, because SIM cards in the kiosks were configured for specific carriers, if Pursuant wanted to change carriers to acquire a stronger signal, the card would have to be switched out, requiring a truck roll expense.
- With 2,700 kiosks in the field and another 1,900 units to be deployed, Pursuant had the usual growth pain points involving implementation and deployment windows as well as accelerating carrier costs.
Pursuant needed a simpler, more robust and elegant way to deploy and manage its IoT network so TeraNova partnered with Webbing, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), and MultiTech, an IoT equipment manufacturer, to bundle the perfect solution. They integrated Webbing’s smart SIM card into MultiTech’s Dragonfly cellular module, which has a radio that bridges connectivity from the PC to nearby cell towers.
As an MVNO with global 4G and LTE network agreements in place, Webbing provides coverage across the top two to three cellular networks in each country on a single “smart” SIM card. At the point of deployment, the SIM will automatically connect to the best network based on signal strength and service quality, and for quite a bit less than working directly with the carriers, too.
The smart SIM monitors quality of service (QoS) and if a failure or network congestion is detected, it reconnects to another network within seconds, thereby providing the high uptime and throughput that Pursuant needs to provide its services.
Pursuant personnel tested the bundled hardware and IoT connectivity solution for six or seven months and were thrilled with the results so they started deploying it in old and new kiosks. When a deployed kiosk’s USB modem fails, it is retrofitted with the new solution, and all newly deployed kiosks have the solution built-in.
“We needed a better and more cost-efficient IoT solution that would minimize offline issues, and we needed it to be self-healing,” explains Eugene Borrowes, director of logistics for Pursuant Health. “With TeraNova’s help, we secured a solution that did that and a lot more, improving and streamlining our operations and setting the stage for further expansion.”
The benefits for Pursuant:
- Reduced carrier costs by 33 percent.
- Provided a seamless process for retrofits and new deployments.
- Eliminated the need for site surveys and signal strength testing at locations.
- Reduced downtime because kiosks can re-establish connections automatically.
- Provided software tools/alerts so Pursuant can monitor its network in real time.
Borrowes stresses that last point. Webbing provides monitoring at the application level. He can see what apps are going over the SIM in real time as well as spot what he calls rogue kiosks that can be costly.
“Before we had to call or send an email to our carrier and say, ‘Hey, can you send us a report on our usage?’” he says. “Now we can view data in real-time, which helps us identify problems including rogue kiosks that are using lots of data and putting us at risk of being charged overages. Over the years we’ve been hit with a lot of overages. The new solution provides alerts and prevents that from happening.”
By implementing this solution, Pursuant essentially joined what Natasha Royer Coons, managing director of TeraNova, calls the smart SIM revolution.
“In our relationship that spans almost a decade, we have evolved as Pursuant’s technology partner to facilitate and help them achieve their goals from business concept to pilot to deployment,” said Coons. “In this latest chapter we are now leveraging advanced IoT technology to provide an even more robust foundation and efficient way to operate the business so Pursuant Health can focus on delivering effective and accessible preventive health care screening to every corner of America.”