Henry Ford Health System Goes High-Tech with Telemedicine

April 08, 2021
virtual care kit

DETROIT (April 8, 2021) – Henry Ford Health System is taking telemedicine to a new level with technology that allows doctors to remotely look inside a patient’s throat and ears, listen to their heart and lungs, examine skin conditions and more without the patient having to leave their home.

Approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Tyto Care™ technology in the Henry Ford Virtual Exam Kit has a built-in camera and three special adapters—an otoscope, a stethoscope and a tongue depressor—that enhances the capability and convenience of a virtual visit.

“As the number of patients choosing telemedicine remains high, we’re excited to be the only healthcare system in eastern Michigan to bring this game-changing technology to our patients,” said Steven Kalkanis, M.D., CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Henry Ford Health System. “We believe this technology elevates the video visit experience and may help patients avoid an in-person visit to urgent care or the emergency department.”

The hand-held device in the virtual exam kit fits in the palm of your hand. It connects with your smartphone, then securely to My Chart, a free service offered to Henry Ford patients that provides secure online access to their medical information and connects to a telemedicine visit.

“The technology blows you away,” said Diane George, D.O., a family medicine physician and Chief Medical Officer for primary care at Henry Ford, adding that the clarity listening to the lungs and other sounds is equal to or even better than doing so in-person.

“When doctors look in an ear normally, we see what we need to see but we’re using a scope to look into the ear canal, which is obviously very small,” she said. “With the kind of optics that are built into the TytoCare device and the high resolution, the image we’re seeing on the computer screen is much bigger and clearer than when we’re looking in the ear through a scope.”

The user-friendly device guides patients and caregivers through exams. Visual cues on the display screen show users where to place the device so their doctor can accurately capture heart, lung and abdominal sounds as well as images of the throat, ears, and skin. The built-in camera makes it easy for patients to show their doctor a rash or other skin condition.

Henry Ford has experienced a boom in telemedicine visits throughout the pandemic. Since March 2020, Henry Ford physicians have conducted more than 300,000 telemedicine visits– up from only 17,000 in 2019. In March 2020 alone, Henry Ford averaged about 5,700 video visits a week.

“This past year reminded us that we must be flexible and adaptable to new ways of caring for our patients. Our medical group physicians have been doing that, meeting patients where they are, so that we could continue on our mission to provide the best care possible and create the best patient outcomes,” Dr. Kalkanis said. “By rolling out this virtual exam kit, we’re taking another step down the road of adapting our health care system’s approach to care.”

While video visits are effective and popular, Dr. George acknowledged there are limitations.

“This technology takes what otherwise would have been just a video - where you really just have to pick up on facial cues and tone of voice and rely on patient history and the presence or absence of other symptoms to make a diagnosis - and adds the same exam elements patients get during an in-person visit,” she said.

The medical exam kit costs $299. Because it’s an FDA-approved medical device, most insurance companies, including Health Alliance Plan, allow patients to use their flexible savings account or health savings account to cover the cost.

Henry Ford Virtual Exam Kit can be purchased online at https://www.henryford.com/services/virtual-care/tyto

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About Henry Ford Health System

Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. Henry Ford Health System includes Henry Ford Medical Group, with more than 1,900 physicians and researchers practicing in more than 50 specialties at locations throughout Southeast and Central Michigan. Acute care hospitals include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, MI – both Magnet® hospitals; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

The largest of these is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a quaternary care research and teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and multi-organ transplants. The health system also provides comprehensive, best-in-class care for cancer at the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, and orthopedics and sports medicine at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine – both in Detroit.

As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System annually trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40% of the state’s physicians. Our dedication to education and research is supported by nearly $100 million in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private foundations.

Henry Ford’s not-for-profit health plan, Health Alliance Plan (HAP), provides health coverage for more than 540,000 people.

Henry Ford Health System employs more than 33,000 people, including more than 1,600 physicians, more than 6,600 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals.

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NEWS MEDIA ONLY may contact: Dana Jay / [email protected] / 847-530-0320