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. Edward Baran reports.
A visit to the doctor's office can feel like the worst thing when you're already sick. This small device is aimed at replacing physical face-to-face check ups. It's made by Israel's Tytocare, a leading telemedicine company. Their Tyto device allows patients to conduct examinations of organs and be diagnosed by remote clinicians. SOUNDBITE (English) DEDI GILAD, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF TYTOCARE, SAYING: "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." The associated TytoApp guides users through complicated examinations. It can be used to check heart rate or temperature -- as well as conduct examinations of the ears, throat and lungs. And it allows a clinician to interact with patients online or offline. It also represents a significant cost saving - in the US a basic primary care visit costs around 170 dollars, three times the cost of telemedicine appointments. The system was tested at Israel's Schneider children's hospital. SOUNDBITE (English) DIRECTOR OF THE EMERGENCY MEDICINE DEPARTMENT AT SCHNEIDER CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, PROF. YEHEZKEL WAISMAN, SAYING: "What we found was really remarkable, that there was almost no difference between the two types of examinations...But we must be careful about the use. There are certain diseases, certain 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." Telemedecine does have its critics, who believe that real-time encounters with a doctor will always be superior. But those behind it say it could drastically cut the number of face-to-face doctors' visits and save money for healthcare providers and insurers.