FDA okays smart stethoscope that lets parents examine kids at home while doc observes through live feed

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Home monitoring is hot right now, but few probably imagined that this much autonomy could end up in patients’ hands. The FDA has just approved medtech startup TytoCare‘s digital stethoscope that will allow a doctor to evaluate what they see through the stethoscope via teleconferencing. It comes complete with an exclusive platform that will track heart beat, lungs, ears-nose-throat, skin and temperature, all the trappings of a conventional checkup.

The first product, TytoHome, allows patients to examine themselves from home with clinician supervision via the platform, while TytoPro is designed for use by professionals who want to connect with other doctors (particularly specialists) in real time.

“Until today, telehealth was limited because clinicians had to rely on phone or video conferencing only to examine and diagnose a patient, without the benefit of a physical exam,” said Dedi Gilad, CEO and Co-Founder of TytoCare. “By providing vital physical exam data, Tyto extends the reach of the clinician beyond the four walls of the clinic.  For the first time we are making it possible to closely replicate, from home, a face-to-face visit to the doctor’s office.

“Tyto is providing the missing link that will help telehealth realize its full potential.”

Both have heavy implications for streamlining consultations and diagnoses, possibly eliminating wait times between first visits and referrals to specialists. It’s just the latest in a booming telehealth market forecast to be worth $6.5 billion by 2020.

“Examinations can be done in real time as part of a live video telehealth visit, or in advance of a telehealth session and then automatically forwarded on to the physician (“exam and forward”),” a spokesperson told Geektime. “However, there is also the professional device, TytoPro, in which medical professionals can use the device on patients either in the office or in remote locations to capture exam data and get a second opinion.”

Over the near term, the company will focus on getting the professional devices out to the doctors before shifting to the consumer side of the equation.

They have so far raised more than $19 million from Orbimed, Cambia Health Solutions, Walgreens, and Fosun Pharma. Yet, they aren’t the first to come out with such a device. Stethee, based in Brisbane, Australia, debuted in late 2014. The eKuore and CliniCloud smart stethoscopes also offer ample competition.

“By enabling a physical examination that virtually replicates an in-person visit, TytoCare will greatly enhance the ability of school-based clinics, nurses, home health providers, patients and family caregivers to connect and share medical information,” said Karen S. Rheuban, MD, chair of TytoCare’s board and the American Telemedicine Association’s former president.

TytoHome (courtesy)
TytoHome (courtesy)

“The use of digital technologies that support high quality remote examinations, when integrated into care delivery models that enhance access both within the context of the medical home and in other settings, promises to transform how patients are treated today.  Consumers have demonstrated a strong desire for timely, convenient access to care. TytoCare offers an innovative and important solution to ensure that such care is of high quality, is convenient and meets the standards of the in-person visit.”

This device and others like it have the potential to improve the ease of treatment for patients across the globe, removing the need to leave the home while sick to visit the doctor. The advantages here for both parents as well as the elderly are significant to say the least. From the doctor’s side, the digital nature of the checkups could cut down on paperwork related to recording results and billable hours.

If this product can help reduce the need to decipher doctors’ handwriting, then it will have been well worth the effort.

The company was founded by Dedi Gilad and Ofer Tzadik in 2012.

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