New Israeli/American research supports benefit of remote medical services to reduce hospital visits

Device allows vitals to be taken remotely from home(photo credit: TytoCare)

By: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH | Published On: September 5 2023 15:39 | The Jerusalem Post

Telemedicine reduces the need for patients to rush to crowded emergency rooms by 20% without harming quality of care.

Telemedicine – examining and advising patients from afar via smartphones and other digital screens – significantly reduces the burden on doctors, hospitals, and clinics, while providing immediate answers to patients.

A collaborative study of Israel’s largest health fund, Clalit Health Services, by Tel Aviv University (TAU), the University of Haifa, and Stanford University in California, found that telemedicine reduces the need for patients to rush to crowded emergency rooms by 20% without harming quality of care, utilizing home-based medical examination equipment.

Dr. Yehezkel Waisman, an expert in pediatric medicine at Clalit, said that the “leading significance of this research is the alleviation of pressure on the healthcare system and on hospitals in a way that allows for quicker medical responses in cases that do require physical examination. The importance of this study is understanding the potential of new technologies to improve and streamline medical services, assist in diagnostic and treatment processes, and expand the use of telemedicine without increasing costs.”

The study was recently published in the Journal of Health Economics under the title “Adoption and utilization of device-assisted telemedicine.” The study analyzed the impact and the effects of utilizing home examination devices like Tyto.

Tytocare was founded in 2012 by Israelis Dedi Gilad and Ofer Tzadik in Netanya. The company developed the digital device for remote medical testing and diagnosis that allows for accurate long-distance interaction between doctor and patient.

Doctor listens to heart rate with remote device. (credit: TytoCare)

The comprehensive analysis encompassed an extensive dataset of over 100,000 digital visits – spanning the period from 2019 to 2021 and involving a cohort of 28,000 users. The results were compared to similar patients who did not use the innovative device.

Clalit pioneered the new technology

Clalit was the first to offer Tyto – a compact medical device designed for remote assessments, encompassing vital parameters such as temperature, throat, ears, heart rate, lung function, and skin condition evaluations – to their members in Israel.

Dr. Dan Zeltzer, a TAU economist, explained that “the increase is primarily in digital visits, but among Tyto service users, we observed a significant decrease in visits to urgent-care centers, emergency rooms, and hospitals.”

Joseph Rashba of the Clalit Research Institute stressed that “a parent who would have in the past rushed their child to the emergency room or urgent-care center in the middle of the night due to fever or earaches now gets the desired response and instructions for further care without needing to physically see a physician.”

Liora Shechter, Clalit’s vice president for digital and technology and chief information officer, added that remote medical services could genuinely revolutionize patient home care.

“This research illustrates how innovation, including our smart tools for remote medicine, adds value in improving treatment quality,” concluded Prof. Ran Balicer, Clalit’s head of innovation.