The Lakeland Ledger reports that Publix has struck an exclusive deal with BayCare Health Systems that will result in " BayCare screening stations in all Publix stores, and teleconferencing stations in selected Publix locations."

The so-called "telehealth" locations are an interesting development, described as each offering "a private room with teleconferencing and medical diagnostic equipment — including stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, high-definition cameras and other tools necessary for common diagnoses.

"The telehealth sites allow patients to speak directly, via video conferencing technology, with a board-certified physician through BayCare's physician network. The physician can direct the patient to use the available diagnostic tools in order to make a diagnosis and write any necessary prescriptions."

The story says that "another component of the collaboration will enable BayCare patients to test their blood pressure and perform other screenings on the in-store health and wellness kiosks — known as 'higi' stations — and send their screening results directly to their BayCare physician at no extra fee."

KC's View: I like the idea of being able to teleconference with a doctor, but I'm not entirely sure I trust my ability to use a stethoscope on myself. But assuming the medical instruments are connected to the internet and can feed the data to the doctor at a remote location ... well, this could be a very effective way of extending healthcare to people without immediate access to doctors.