New device makes virtual doctor visits more effective for patients

‘The myriad of things that can be diagnosed with the Tyto can be diagnosed from home’

One lesson for healthcare that came out of the pandemic was the convenience and effectiveness of virtual doctor's visits. But seeing and talking with a doctor via video has obvious limitations. There are important parts of a physical exam that just can't be done on a virtual visit -- until now.

One lesson for healthcare that came out of the pandemic was the convenience and effectiveness of virtual doctor’s visits. But seeing and talking with a doctor via video has apparent limitations.

There are essential parts of a physical exam that just can’t be done on a virtual visit until now.

“To be quite honest, the Tyto device has been a game changer because a lot of things that we typically would have to have a patient come into the office to examine,” said Dr. Jennifer Burgess, a family medicine physician for Henry Ford Health. “For example, ears in a kid, we’re able to do from home.”

Burgess would know as she has lots of experience with virtual care.

“I’ve been doing it for about eight years,” Burgess said. “For the Tyto device, it’s been about two and a half years.”

The Tyto is made of several parts. The main piece has a camera, thermometer, and viewing touch screen that connects wirelessly to a smartphone or whatever device is being used for the virtual visit.

Depending on what part of the physical exam the doctor wants to do, the patient or their caregiver would snap on the necessary attachment. For instance, there’s a stethoscope for listening to the heart and lungs. An otoscope to look in the ears and a tongue depressor attachment to look in the throat.

Ann Tull’s family has been using a Tyto during virtual visits for over a year.

“To me, this is worth the weight in gold,” said Tull.

It’s been beneficial for her son.

“My son’s 31,” Tull said. “He’s autistic; he’s at an age between three and six.”

Getting him to the doctor has always been challenging because of the distance and the stress it causes him.

“He’ll get so anxious,” Tull said.

“The patients who have the device, a lot of them live further away from my clinic, so just to get to the office takes longer than a half an hour,” Burgess said. “In addition, they’re working parents with multiple kids, so to save that time, they love it.”

Getting basic vital signs and being able to see into the ears or listen to the lungs can make the difference between getting treated with a simple prescription or being told to go to the emergency room.

“The myriad of things that can be diagnosed with the Tyto, including ear infections, even pneumonia, asthma, strep throat based off visualization, all of those can be diagnosed without having to come into the office,” Burgess said.

The Tyto device costs $199 to purchase. Multiple people in a family can use one device. It’s currently available only through Henry Ford Health.

To learn more about the Tyto, click here.


About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.