Johns Creek firm up for Forbes award

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JOHNS CREEK - The medical industry sees breathtaking advances everyday in technology and new applications to solve problems that have plagued humans. At the same time, more and more people are gaining access to better care to help get better. But one area they often neglect is their vision: one of the most important senses.

A new Johns Creek company has rolled out an innovative product it is hoping can take the market by storm to help people get a better understanding of their eye health. SoloHealth recently unveiled its EyeSite Kiosks, which give consumers a free eye health screening, giving recommendations on what to do based on the findings.

“But the important thing we want to stress is that this should not be a replacement for an eye exam from a doctor,” said SoloHealth CEO Bart Foster. “This is a supplemental device because studies have shown that people can go years without an eye screening.”

Foster cited studies saying that 38 percent of people have waited two or more years to get a screening, while another 24 percent have never had a screening.

After the consumer uses the kiosk, a list of physicians in the area is printed out where they can go to follow-up on the results. Foster said that his company makes its money through licensing agreements to list these physicians. In fact, he said there is now a waiting list for doctors to get their names in the database.

The list of places where EyeSite Kiosks can be found is expanding. They were first rolled-out for market trial in February 2008 with six months of initial testing. Since August, the company has moved into its second phase of trials which should last until early 2009. Right now consumers can find these at retailers like Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco and Walgreens across the metro area as well as North Point Mall and Discover Mills.

And people are beginning to take notice.

“In just the last couple of weeks we’ve had more than 10,000 people use the kiosks,” Foster said.

But it’s not just consumers who are lauding the idea: industry experts are as well. Recently the company won several awards, including best in show, at the KioskCom Expo in Las Vegas. Past recipients have included FedEX, BMW and Hilton Hotels. Now, the company is competing for its biggest prize yet: the Forbes Magazine “Boost Your Business” entrepreneurial prize.

SoloHealth is one of 20 semi-finalists chosen among more than 1,500 entries to compete for a $100,000 prize. Voters can go online to select the top five entries, and if chosen, SoloHealth representatives will go to New York City to meet with Forbes and a chance at the prize.

For voting information, visit www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/boostyourbusiness/ to watch each of the semi-finalists’ videos. For more information about the kiosks, visit www.solo-health.com.