Health IT, Startups

These three telehealth approaches show how the sector is diversifying

From American Well’s collaboration with Tyto Care to startups Medici Technologies and Remedy, telehealth approaches are continuing to evolve.

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There has been a good deal of activity in the world of telehealth in the past couple of weeks. American Well inked a deal with Tyto Care. Austin-based Medici Founder Clinton Phillips, who previously led 2nd.MD, raised $24 million to support the company’s expansion. Remedy launched an app with machine learning baked into a platform to put board certified physicians in front of patients in California.

Each of these companies is very different and reflect some of the diversity in the telehealth market.

American Well’s agreement with Tyto Care integrates the Israeli device maker’s self-exam tool with American Well’s video visit platform. Tyto Care received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month for a digital stethoscope that’s intended to be integrated with TytoCare’s handheld device. Tyto Care’s device includes a digital stethoscope, otoscope, thermometer and exam camera and is intended to help capture data through an exam of a patient’s mouth, ears, throat, eyes, skin, and check temperature, heart sounds and lung sounds. So individuals use Tyto Care’s device for the physical exam from their home as an American Well physician interprets the images and data from their office.

American Well CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg said the deal with Tyto Care gives remote telehealth physicians the ability to do physical exams that can help them safely diagnose, treat and track their patients’ condition. It’s like HealthSpot without the costly kiosks.

Medici wants to make the telehealth experience a little more personal by encouraging providers to adopt the Software as a Service text-based platform and use it to communicate with their own patients.

Medici, which is currently only available in Austin, Texas, allows patients to securely text with their own primary care doctor, as well as therapists and veterinarians through the app.

Although the company’s emailed news release vaguely noted Medici raised “millions” in a private placement, the same release made reference to a Form D filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which recorded an investment totaling $24.1 million. The company plans to use the funding to expand the business from Austin and Paris to other areas of the U.S., Europe, and South Africa.

Phillips acknowledged in the release that it was indeed a pretty big investment for an early stage company “…but our aspirations to fix healthcare are enormous, and we are just getting started.”  Philips told MobiHealthNews the company plans to be in 12 states by January 2017.

Another business, Remedy, enlists primary care physicians for its patient-driven telehealth service, which lets patients text their symptoms and chat, if necessary, for $30. The idea as CEO and cofounder William Jack described it, is for these physicians to have an ongoing interaction with patients until the problem is resolved. Direct to consumer models of telemedicine have struggled with low utilization rates compared with business to business to consumer models because it’s not really second nature for people to do virtual doctors appointments.

Remedy, takes video interaction out of the equation in favor of the text-based approach. Users download the iOS network app and send their symptoms or queries to the company’s team of doctors.

The company enlists machine learning through a tool called Remy, which the company refers to as a physician’s assistant, to support administrative work, and derive insights from data collected from users.

That raises some questions about how physicians can verify who they are without someone simply pretending.

Doctors on Remedy can diagnose and prescribe medications except for drugs such as opioids. In response to a question about the prescription process CEO William Jack said:

“Because our platform turns each interaction into an ongoing conversation, it allows us to employ the “wait and see” approach to prescribing. For example, a doctor may say ‘The symptoms suggests that it is likely X, which is caused by Y and should go away by itself in around Z days. However, I’m going to check in with you in 48 hours and if it’s not getting better, I’ve got a few other things we can try, including considering prescriptions.’ This is all at no additional cost to the patient.”

When a treatment can’t be completed through Remedy, the company refers users to the closest doctor covered by the patient’s plan.

The company has received seed funding from Greylock Discovery Fund, which the venture capital firm launched in 2010 for early stage companies, as well as Khosla Ventures and Alsop Louie Partners.

Photo: Bigstock