Remember when changing the television channel meant going over to the set and manually pressing a button? Not likely. Remote television controllers were introduced all the way back in 1950 by Zenith Radio Corporation—they called it “Lazy Bones,” and from there, the infamous couch potato was born. Since then, remote solutions to everyday tasks have increasingly become the norm. This evolution can be explained within a wider cultural context, where demand for more accommodating, efficient, and convenient means of performing tasks grew alongside a world that finds itself with less time to spare, less energy to expend, and new methods to explore.
But while remote solutions might arise out of pure convenience and luxury in many aspects of our lives, they are absolutely crucial in healthcare, and 2020 has accelerated their rise to prominence. Since February 2020, telemedicine in the U.S. grew from less than 1 percent of primary care visits to nearly 43.5 percent in April. It’s unlikely the majority of people, now exposed to the benefits of remote solutions, will simply return to conventional means once the dust has settled. So let’s take a look at the various ways in which remote medical solutions are, not only saving, but also transforming medicine going into 2021.
Meet the virtual doctor
Virtual doctors are no longer the stuff of sci-fi. Israeli startup TytoCare has developed a way for patients to consult with a virtual doctor. This would sound like old news, if not for the fact that the company’s product also enables physical self-examination of the patient, an aspect of care that is not normally possible in a standard video conference. TytoCare equips patients with an app and a handheld exam kit that lets them perform guided medical exams remotely with their healthcare provider. The TytoPro kit provides the necessary tools doctors are used to having at hand in their clinics: a stethoscope, otoscope for ear examinations, contactless thermometer, skin camera, and the means to carry out a throat examination.
In the past, doctors have remained hesitant about taking responsibility for remote diagnosis, instead limiting their remote services to counseling. Companies like Tyto are spearheading the effort to expand doctor’s capacities to treat patients from a distance.
Telemedicine pioneer Healthy.io, too, created a smartphone-based urine test that provides users with instant results. The company offers the only FDA-cleared and CE-approved home urine test equivalent to a lab-based device.
A visual game-changer
At least 2.2 billion people are blind or have a vision impairment globally, according to figures from the World Health Organization. One Jerusalem-based company, established by the founders of Israel’s Mobileye, has upped the ante for treating such conditions. OrCam initially developed both handheld and wearable artificial vision devices, designed to enable visually impaired people to read and identify objects through audio feedback. As many of the living assistance facilities in which the most vulnerable visually impaired people reside have been shut down as a result of the pandemic, OrCam has sought to help them navigate the world around them while widespread lockdowns are implemented globally.
The company’s MyEye technology enables visually impaired people to read text, recognize faces, identify products, and generally perform many tasks they had never previously conceived possible. According to tech critic Trevor Long, OrCam’s products have dramatically improved the lives of the visually impaired elderly community, who remain quarantined in their homes. The company recently signed football star Leo Messi to be a global ambassador.
Managing diabetes just got remotely interesting
With more than a million people in the United States with Type I diabetes, our team at DreaMed Diabetes has developed a solution enabling people to conveniently monitor their condition remotely through our DreaMed Advisor Pro software.
DreaMed’s’s remote solution not only received encouraging feedback from users and doctors within the endocrinology community, but also the golden stamp of approval by leading institutions. In August, the Helmsley Trust chose the DreaMed Advisor for its virtual specialty clinic project led by the Jaab Center, before Nature Magazine published a study concluding that DreaMed’s insulin-dosing adjustments proved comparable to those provided by expert physicians.
The significance of such a facility, which utilizes a cloud-based digital solution generating personal insulin delivery recommendations directly to the user's doctor, has taken on added meaning with the challenges of the pandemic to navigate. Yet the company has performed robustly despite these obstacles, closing 2020 with more than 21 leading clinics and health systems utilizing its protocol, including: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the Billings Clinic in Montana, Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, and UF Health.
With 2021 on its doorstep, we have no plans to slow down. While new features will be added to enhance the DreaMed Advisor Pro, the overall mission is now to expand our product to the reach of more people with diabetes, with extensive work already underway to provide solutions for those requiring multiple daily injections.
Israeli remote solution may have gained a permanent foothold
To many countries, the circumstances of the pandemic served as a threat, bad omen, and overall unenviable challenge to navigate. For the Startup Nation always looking for the next solution, it served as a window of opportunity.
“With patients becoming accustomed to the level of access telemedicine provides, I don’t think we’re ever going to be able to go back. The box is open,” Atlanta Neurologist, Dr. Jeffrey English, said in a Modern Health Care interview.
It’s safe to say remote healthcare solutions aren’t going away anytime soon, and it’s safe to say Israeli tech will remain at the forefront of its development.
Written by Eran Atlas, Co-Founder & CEO of DreaMed Diabetes