By Josh Baxt |MedCityNews | November 13, 2019
The Israeli maker of FDA-cleared medical devices announced it has expanded its partnership with Best Buy such that its connected device kit – TytoHome – is sold in the retailer’s U.S. locations.
One of the ongoing questions at the recent HLTH conference was: How do we deploy digital technologies to improve care? Telehealth is a good example. Many companies, such as Omada Health and Doctor On Demand, are going through health systems to boost telehealth options. Tyto Care is taking a somewhat different approach, making TytoHome, the company’s digital home health exam kit, available directly to consumers.
On Wednesday Israel-based Tyto Care announced it has expanded its partnership with consumer electronics retailer Best Buy, which will be selling TytoHome at 300 stores across the U.S. for $299. Individual tele-visits will cost $59. Before this expansion, Best Buy and Tyto Care had pursued a more limited Midwest rollout.
The kit includes a handheld device with a variety of attachments that can listen to the heart and lungs, measure temperature and image the throat and ears. The kit includes an exam camera, infrared thermometer, tongue depressor and otoscope for the ear exams. Bluetooth can connect other devices, such as glucometers. With these tools a parent, for example, can examine a sick child and send measurements and images to a physician via smartphone.
“Traditionally, most virtual care has just been audio and visual with the provider,” said David Bardan, Tyto Care’s vice president of Provider Solutions, in an interview. “We built this kit that now allows you to add on a series of different adapters. The otoscope allows you to effectively do your exam, and the physician on the other end can see the inside of the ear.”
Bardan believes this approach could help people determine whether a doctor’s visit is warranted, simplify follow-up exams and help physicians determine if their patient is improving. The visual data can also prepare specialists for a referral or preserve longitudinal data to track a condition over time. The system also has an asynchronous mode, allowing patients to send information without a live visit.
To make the system as user-friendly as possible, Tyto Care provides a tutorial – Tyto Academy – along with real-time guidance from the TytoHome. For example, the stethoscope function warns if there is too much background noise for an accurate reading.
While reimbursement for virtual visits is still a work in progress, Bardan notes payers are moving in the right direction. He also believes home-based exam technology could be a big plus for physicians, taking pressure off their hectic schedules and possibly supporting their ability to do some work from home.
In addition to their home system, the company is also working with providers to enable mini-clinics, help commercial flight crews during in-air emergencies or support care in schools or prisons.
While, patients can use TytoHome to access a physician, at present, it may not be their regular doctor. Current providers include Novant Health, in North Carolina, Ochsner Health System, in Louisiana and Mississippi and Sanford Health in North and South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. American Well and LiveHealth Online provide access in other states. The company is also pursuing other models to bring its technology to patients.
“We have a lot of different partners across the board, and we work with major health systems and provider organizations,” said Bardan. “We also work with health plans and several self-insured employers who are deploying this for their own employees as a wellness kit. Every time they use a virtual exam or a virtual visit in general, they’re saving money.”