- mHealth developers may be seeing dollar signs in the lucrative consumer market, but they’d be best advised to start first with doctors.
That’s what Tyto Care is doing. The Israeli startup recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a digital stethoscope and is getting ready to launch a handheld telehealth kit for the home. First, however, the company is launching a similar product to the provider market.
Healthcare provider acceptance “is very important to us,” says Dedi Gilad, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We’ve been working hand-in-hand with clinicians … so that they are used to it and want to use it.”
At the same time, “that is not our business, not our focus,” he adds. “We are in the business of helping [the consumer] benefit from the promises of telemedicine.”
The two-product strategy may be a sign of things to come as consumer-facing healthcare intersects with the clinical ecosystem. Tyto Care is first soft-launching its TytoPro model to the physician community, eyeing the doctor’s office, clinic, home care and remote monitoring markets. The TytoHome model will follow shortly afterwards, retailing at about $300.
Gilad says TytoPro is a more robust product, with a tougher shell, more peripherals, a portal for clinician-to-clinician consults and a software package that allows for more data storage and EMR integration. TytoHome, meanwhile, has a softer, more consumer-friendly design, with easy-to-use peripherals, a camera, little storage capacity and the ability to link with and transfer data to a healthcare provider.
Tyto Care also joins a growing number of small mHealth companies that see clinical acceptance as a key to consumer adoption. The strategy is to have doctors and nurses use and feel comfortable with the device, then recommend it to their patients. Consumers, meanwhile, might be more apt to buy an mHealth product if they know it’s being used by doctors.
Karen S. Rheuban, MD, a former president of the American Telemedicine Association and chairman of Tyto Care’s advisory board, says the device could fill a need for providers who operate outside the hospital setting.
“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,” Rheuban, a pediatric cardiologist and co-founder of the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth, said in remarks provided by Tyto Care. “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.”
Gilad says he wants clinical acceptance, but the real mark of commercial success will come from the consumer market.
“We want this to be a success in the home,” he says. As the consumer asserts more control over his or her healthcare expenses, devices and platforms that can take healthcare out of the doctor’s office and replicate it in the home setting will become popular.
In addition, Gilad sees a growing market for home-based remote monitoring platforms for care management and chronic care. And those, too, will need clinical support.
mHealth devices like TytoHome “don’t diagnose on their own,” he says. “Tyto really isn’t device – it’s a solution to replicate the doctor visit in the home.”