A just-released survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and telemedicine provider LiveHealth Online indicates a near-total desire for–and ability to access–on-demand, 24/7 healthcare and virtual visits. The key motivations are economic, convenience and educational: 71 percent cited the loss of at least two hours of time at work and school due to taking their child to the doctor’s office.
Given their age (starting at 18 and up to 59), the 500+ moms surveyed not surprisingly felt confident using health technology, with 82 percent believing themselves to be the most ‘health-tech savvy’ in the family.
- 64 percent stated that having access to healthcare on-demand was more important than having streaming video or food delivery
- 64 percent (64%) of women surveyed said they found it challenging to take their kids to the doctor during office hours during the school year
- 79 percent said they would be interested in trying or learning more about telemedicine to help themselves and/or their family when faced with a non-emergency medical issue
Over half–54 percent–believed that online video doctor visits would improve their confidence in attending to family health, “like having a health security blanket”.
The survey apparently did not test for price sensitivity; for instance, per visit fees and amount subsidized by the payer.
It was conducted earlier this year by EmpowHER, an online health community for women. BCBSGa’s interest is that it offers coverage for online visits to many of its health plan members via LiveHealth Online, which uses the American Well network but is a separate company. BCBSGa release, EmpowHER/LiveHealth infographic, Internet Health Management
An interesting adjunct to this survey would have been to ask about ideal healthcare tools used in conjunction with that online doctor visit. This is anticipated to be a major market for advanced ‘all-in-one’ telehealth diagnostic units such as those developed by Tyto Care, Scanadu Scout or MedWand [TTA 2 Nov]. These are not only capable of taking standard vital signs, but also clinical quality digital pictures of those sore throats and inflamed ear canals.
Only a few years ago, the Star of the Future of Digital Health was the ‘tricorder’–that all-in-one vital signs device that Bones on Star Trek
wielded with such élan (when he wasn’t uttering ‘He’s dead, Jim’). We haven’t heard much from Scanadu
since early last year when it raised $35 million for its Series B
and when it teamed with with Northern Ireland’s Intelesens
as a finalist for the seemingly never-ending Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE.
(Seven finalists are now in consumer testing with awards in early 2017.)
In the meantime, others have been proceeding in bringing their devices into reality far sooner, for real people with everyday health problems who want to examine a child, another family member or even themselves at home. One of these companies is Israel’s Tyto Care (picture above at left), which received FDA 510(k) Class II clearance for its digital stethoscope snap-on to the main device to monitor heart and lung sounds. The device also includes a digital imaging otoscope for ear exams, a throat scope, a skin camera and thermometer swipe. The Tyto home device includes video guidance instructions as part of the smartphone or tablet platform to enable a correct reading. It connects to an online platform to send the information, either in real time or store-and-forward, to a primary care physician the user selects. Tyto Care has been in investigational marketing in the US as well as Israel, bolstered by over $18 million in international investment. They are targeting home DTC as well as professional markets through practices, payers, virtual visit providers and possibly retail (one of their investors is Walgreens Boots). Release If you are attending MEDICA 2017 in Düsseldorf on 16 November, you can see Tyto Care demonstrated at the 5th Annual MEDICA App Competition.
Another all-in-one device is Las Vegas-based MedWand, which is still in pre-marketing. MedWand seems to feature clinic and ‘group’ packages as well as the individual device which includes a pulse oximeter. They received another round of undisclosed financing from Maxim Ventures, the venture arm for semi-conductor developer Maxim Integrated Products at end of September. Release.