A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israeli tele-medicine company is looking to replace some of the billions of face-to-face doctor visits, with a new device that allows patients an accurate self-examination from home.
The device is called Tyto and allows patients to measure their own vital signs -- heart rate or temperature -- as well as to conduct examinations of organs that require more accuracy, such as ears, throat and lungs.
"We basically replicate a face-to-face interaction with a remote clinician while allowing him to do a full physical examination, analysis and the diagnosis of a patient at home," explained Dedi Gilad, CEO and co-founder of the Israeli-based
Tele-medicine is a growing trend in the health industry, using new technologies to improve service for patients and cut costs for insurers. It includes various devices for self-check ups or online consultation services.
What makes Tyto unique, says Gilad, is the fact that the accompanying TytoApp - using algorithms and visual recognition technologies - guides users to conduct even complicated examinations. It also offers a full comprehensive solution, allowing the clinician to interact with the patient online or offline, storing the patient's data and using it to improve health care.
"Nobody in the industry has this correlation of data," Gilad said, adding that Tytocare can also analyze the data and use it to learn "about correlation, about changes over time per patient and per population, showing trends, variety, abnormalities, any changes over time. We give alerts to the physician and patient and empower both of them to be much more effective in providing care."
The TytoHome package can be used by a varied range of populations for better access to better health care, Gilad added. From parents of young children who find themselves arriving at a doctor's clinic too often, to people with disabilities or populations residing in distanced, rural areas where health care services are scarce.
From an insurer, or a care giver point of view, the device allows a significant cut of costs.
In the United States, a basic average cost of a primary care visit is some $170, while a typical telemedicine visit costs around $50. It also eliminates the need of a physical clinic, cutting out the cost of rent, employees and more, Gilad said.
The TytoHome package has an FDA approval and is already marketed in the US, with its consumer kit available on presale for $299.
It has also been tested in Israel's Schneider children's hospital. Director of the Emergency Medicine Department at Schneider, Professor Yehezkel Waisman, told Reuters that the research compared the accuracy and quality of physical check ups done by Tyto to those conducted by doctors.
"What we found was really remarkable, that there was almost no difference between the two types of examinations," he said.
Waisman, who also heads one of Israel's biggest insurers' online-doctor service, is a big supporter of tele-medicine but remains aware of the technology's limitations.
"There are certain diseases and complaints that can not be answered by this kind of device and we should carefully judge case by case and be aware of the limitations of this device," he said.
Tytocare's Gilad estimated the global market of tele-medicine at around $23 billion and added that it is expected to grow to $52 billion by 2021.
Critics warn that telemedical diagnostics should be limited, arguing that a real-time encounter with a doctor will always be superior.