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November 18, 2016

Digital tools strive to simulate in-person doctor visits

Telehealth services are increasingly offered to patients by health insurers, medical providers and employers, as a less expensive and more convenient alternative for doctor and emergency room visits. But the use of this virtual healthcare by patients is going slow.

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TytoCare, an Israel-based telehealth start-up, wants to change that with digital tools that will help patients and their doctors go beyond a video conference to replicate a full in-person examination from the patient’s home.

high-resolution photos

TytoCare got federal clearance of a digital stethoscope. With that, TytoCare is launching a full suite of user-friendly exam tools that allow patients to conduct an examination of the ears, throat, skin, heart, lungs and temperature. Patients can take high-resolution photos of the inside of the ear canal or moles and lesions on the skin, or record the heart rate with Tyto, a handheld gadget with various attachments for different exams.

“If you look at the market, most interactions are by phone or video chat,” TytoCare CEO Dedi Gilad said. But “just doing video chat and voice calls can only do (so much), and that’s why use is still so low.”

The patient is being led through the exam step-by-step with Tyto’s software, so data is captured accurately. Readings can be taken in real time during a telehealth visit or in advance of a session and transmitted to a clinician. The tool costs about $300.

The use is going slow

TytoCare is also launching a professional version that acts like a mobile clinic so doctors can capture digital exam data, integrate the data with patient health records and share those exams with other clinicians.

The start-up raised over $19 million in funding through investors such as Cambia Health Solutions and Walgreens. It is rolling out its tools through five U.S. health systems, including Advocate Health Care, two telemedicine vendors and several physician groups, Gilad said.

According to the National Business Group on Health just 3% of employees used the benefit in 2016. This shows that telehealth has been slow to catch on among consumers. Even though about 70% of large employers offered telehealth services in 2016 with 90% planning to next year. Still, experts expect telehealth to pick up speed as more patients take on a greater share of their health plan costs.

###TytoCARe###

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