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Safeway Opens Five More AI-Powered Medical Clinics In Phoenix

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Arizonans living in the Phoenix area now have access to five more Akos Med Clinics, located in Safeway stores in Scottsdale (2), Ahwatukee, Chandler and Laveen. Five other locations, which opened last November, are in Gilbert, Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa and Tempe. An 11th clinic will open in Casa Grande later this month and a 12th in Boise, Idaho in March.

“We are committed to providing our customers unprecedented convenience for their total health needs,” said Joe Leyba, director of pharmacy for Albertsons Cos. Southwest, which operates Safeway stores. “Our hope is that these clinics help improve access to healthcare in the neighborhoods where we have these locations because they are located in the same place our customers are already buying groceries and picking up their prescriptions.”

Patients experience a completely automated health encounter using artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality. Here’s how it works:

  • Patients start on a tablet or smartphone and engage with the AI, which guides them through registration, insurance validation, payment and information collection required for diagnosis.
  • At the end of the Q&A, the patient is guided to an exam room where they sit in front of a computer screen and a rack of simple-to-use, FDA-approved medical devices.
  • Augmented Reality guides the patient on how to use the devices to collect objective measurements such as weight, temperature, blood pressure and blood oxygen content, as well as ear, nose and throat images, and chest, lung and abdomen sounds.
  • The AI asks follow-up questions and the onsite medical assistant takes labs, if warranted, until the information necessary for diagnostic decision is collected.
  • A complete patient work-up is sent electronically to an Akos medical provider (physician or nurse practitioner) with a breakdown of potential illnesses and treatment options.
  • Through a video consultation, the provider engages with the patient to review the AI-collected information, verify the diagnosis and confirm or modify the treatment plan formulated by the system. Warranted follow-up tests and/or prescriptions are ordered and sent to appropriate healthcare partners.

The entire process takes about 20 minutes; often less.

After the visit concludes, the system automatically charts the visit into the patient’s electronic health record and bills insurance.

The clinics have staff on site to assist patients throughout the process and to clean the instruments between uses.

“Patients have expressed satisfaction at the ease and speed of the experience at the five locations we’ve had open since early November,” said James Bates, president and CEO of Akos Med Clinic. “Much like the self-checkout for groceries, patients appreciate the autonomy our clinics provide, as well as the affordability and speed. Like many other things, Artificial Intelligence is changing how we consume healthcare and our AI system is giving time back to providers to spend consulting with patients.”

Akos Med Clinic accepts most insurance plans, AHCCCS and Medicare. Cash visits cost $75, about half the cost of a typical urgent care visit.

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