Telehealth, Barbershops/Salons, Community Broadband Attack “Silent Killer”

FOR RELEASE  March 4, 2020

For more information – 510-387-4176

Barbershops and hair salons using telehealth and high-speed Internet are adding a new flank in the fight against hypertension (high blood pressure), the leading cause of strokes.

Craig Settles, a broadband consultant and stroke survivor saved by telehealth, is conducting telehealth pilot projects in shops and salons to screen for hypertension in Cleveland, OH, Chicago, IL, Wilson, NC, and seven U.S. cities. This digital healthcare delivered by community-owned broadband benefits people where they are and in environments that they trust.

A healthcare provider in the pilot can advise medical action if the customer’s hypertension is serious, though the customer can decline. In Wilson, the DiFrent Level Barber Studio and its owner Kahmahl Simmons are partnering with the Wilson County Health Department to provide services beyond what’s called for in the pilot.

“If a patient is referred to us from the barbershop for further evaluation, they will see one of our Family Nurse Practitioners even if they don’t have insurance,” says Kimberly D. Almkuist, DNP, FNP-c. “Our fee is based on a have a sliding scale for uninsured patients. I feel this project will have a positive impact on our community and will help screen high-risk patients that may not normally see a provider.

Urban Kutz Barbershops in Cleveland is another pilot participant. They have been screening customers manually for for 12 years, recently with assistance from Cleveland Clinic’s pharmacy team. Owner Waverley Willis reports, “90 customers discover the first time they’re screen they have high blood pressure. It’s amazing how many people don’t even know the basics of hypertension, or the dangers it represents.” They are working with two area hospitals.

This project ensures that women are well represented. In the many years of research and articles on the topic, a lot of attention is focused on men. However, according to the CDC, more African-American women suffer from hypertension than men, while among the White population women are nearly equal men in the occurrence of hypertension.

The barbershops and salons will 1) conduct customers’ blood pressure (BP) readings using digital BP monitors with USB connections, and 2) use VSee Clinic from telehealth vender VSee to send the data to the shop’s healthcare partner. 3) The partner stores the data and sends appropriate health content back to the customer.

In the second phase of the pilot, the barbers or salon and providers meet to determine what on-going telehealth services can lower and/or maintain customers’ BP levels. The third phase is a needs assessment to determine what telehealth services should be surgically deployed community-owned broadband. Many don’t have broadband or affordable broadband at home, so the pilot  tackles how to bring broadband in to the communities. For example, Cleveland, Ohio has 45,652 households without Internet access.

Often adults shun doctors’ offices when they’re not sick, or even when they are feeling ill. Willis says, “Barbers and hairdressers are part-time marriage counselors, psychiatrists, spiritual advisers, and expert listeners. So many customers listen to our medical advice.” He has made a noticeable impact on many of his customers’ healthy eating habits as well.

The results and recommendations from the pilots will be compiled in a report available to the public. The pilots also will be documented in the book on telehealth and community broadband that Mr. Settles is writing and should publish in February.

Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Over 795,000 people every year. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. 140,000 people. In the 11 states that make up the “Stroke Belt,” adults have a 34% higher chance of dying from a stroke than the rest of the U.S.

Craig Settles, President of CJ Speaks, assists cities and electric co-ops with business planning for broadband and telehealth. Mr. Settles’ consulting, books, reports, and presentations help audiences worldwide leverage their broadband infrastructure to help local governments, healthcare, businesses, and education.


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  • Who’s Craig Settles?

    Industry analyst, expert broadband business strategist, runs on-site workshops to help clients create effective broadband plans.

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