At-home diagnostic system sees growth in older users

Tyto Care conducted more than 650,000 telehealth exams last year as COVID-19 drives increased uptake, including in senior care environments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven rapid growth in the global telehealth market. This growth is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, with consulting giant McKinsey suggesting that as much as $250 billion of US healthcare spending could be “virtualized”.

Through its development of specially designed at-home diagnostic hardware, Tyto Care is taking the concept of telehealth far beyond the basic “video call” approach. The system combines a mobile app with an IoT diagnostic device and a range of adapters including stethoscope, otoscope and tongue depressor, allowing doctors to perform guided medical exams remotely.

Longevity.Technology: Telehealth has strong implications in longevity, both from a preventative health perspective and in helping overcome the healthcare provision challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. To find out more about Tyto’s approach, we caught up with David Bardan, the company’s vice president of enterprise solutions.

Tyto was founded in 2012 by Israeli engineer and entrepreneur Denny Gilad, who originally designed the product for use with children, but quickly found it had applications for all populations.

David Bardan
David Bardan, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Tyto Care

“The intent was to build a comprehensive diagnostic device that could live and exist in the home,” says Bardan. “And so, after four years of development, as well as regulatory approvals, we began commercialising the product in 2017 in the US. Now we serve over 150 enterprise organisations worldwide – a mix between health system organisations, payers, employers – a wide variety of different types of customers.”
Tyto also offers its product direct-to-consumer through partnerships with companies such as Best Buy in the US.

“What’s so unique about what Tyto does is that we really intend to replicate as much as we can in terms of what you would otherwise do in person during a visit to the doctor,” says Bardan. “We’re connecting clinicians in a virtual fashion with patients, and not compromising healthcare whatsoever by still giving them the ability to remotely examine them as thoroughly as they typically would, in person.”

Tyto male model
Tyto device being used to listen to a patient’s heart beat during a telehealth consultation.

Using Tyto, clinicians can listen to patients’ heart sounds, lung sounds, look inside their ears, their throat, and take their temperature, for example.

“We’ve recently also added on a pulse oximeter for oxygen levels,” says Bardan. “So the idea is really to complement an audio-visual visit with what we add into that experience – the remote diagnostics.”

“In 2020, we conducted over 650,000 successful telehealth exams globally, which is a very exciting growth trajectory for our company … ”

Tyto has seen a significant growth in 2020, driven in part by COVID-19 but also, Bardan feels, because the telehealth space is becoming more widely accepted by consumers and health systems worldwide.

“In 2020, we conducted over 650,000 successful telehealth exams globally, which is a very exciting growth trajectory for our company, given that we’ve really only been commercialising for the past four years,” he says. “There’s actually been quite a heavy focus on older people, especially over this past year, when the elderly population was hit very hard with COVID. We’ve done a lot of work with COVID monitoring programmes, and we do work both in the home with people aged 65+, as well as with long term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities and assisted care living sites.”

Next steps: AI-powered diagnostic support

Looking forward, Tyto is aiming to leverage the extensive data being collected by its technology to enable AI support for clinicians in their diagnosis.

Tyto female model
Tyto device being used to conduct an ear exam remotely.

“We have the first of its kind data repository of point-in-time data – heart sounds, lung sounds, throat exams,” says Bardan. “We can start to piece these things together and create insightful, meaningful trends as well as produce machine learning that could potentially provide an individual and their clinician with a diagnosis over time.”

The company’s initial focus will be on detection of abnormalities in lung exams, with plans to detect symptoms in throat exams as well, with Tyto alerting clinicians and patients to the presence of these abnormalities. This AI-powered diagnostic element has been submitted to the FDA for clearance, expected in mid-2021.

“ … the more data that we can pull, the more valuable the system can become for not only clinicians, but the patient as well … ”

Ultimately, Tyto is aiming to emulate Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Nest products and become the go-to connected device for health at home.

“You can think about the utilisation of this product for the sick, but it’s also for the healthy, right?” says Bardan. “We want to change the way people look at healthcare and not have such a negative connotation to it – a view that’s more positive, that can give people the ability to better monitor their health over the course of a year.”

To support this goal, the company is working on software and hardware enhancements, as well as exploring integrations with partners to increase the product’s ability to provide “meaningful insights.”

“Tyto is certainly one element of the type of diagnostic data that we can capture and monitor for, but there’s a lot more out there,” says Bardan. “And the more data that we can pull, the more valuable the system can become for not only clinicians, but the patient as well.”

Images courtesy of Tyto Care