What’s in your first-aid kit? Do you even have one?
Chances are, if you or someone in your life is in an at-risk health category, or if there are young children or elderly relatives nearby, you’ve got something on hand in case of emergency.
But even if you have a suitcase full of bandages, thermometers, and medicine, it’s still just you who has to make the diagnosis and apply the first-aid. That will change in the future as video conferencing becomes more and more accessible and practical.
In that future, your first-aid kit will include a direct video call link to emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and first responders. The technology is already beginning to appear.
Video Calling Stethoscope Gets FDA Approval
In November, the FDA approved something that’s been labeled a digital stethoscope, which is offered up by medical device maker TytoCare. I put that “labeled” caveat in there because the stethoscope is more of a medical Swiss army knife for home use by the general public.
Like the scanner in a Star Trek episode, it is able to remotely check a patient’s heart, lungs, ears, throat, skin, and temperature. All that information is then digitally delivered to an on-call doctor via a smartphone app.
The TytoHome, as the public version is called to differentiate it from the medical practitioner’s version TytoPro, is a palm-sized device with a series of attachments that provide images, video, and audio of a patient’s condition.
What’s most interesting, though, is that in addition to storing information to be accessed by a doctor at their convenience, it can also be paired with a live video conference. With the video link, a remote doctor gets instant access to all the bio data, and can also chat live with the patient or their caretaker, as well as getting a live stream of the TytoHome in action. This means the doctor can direct the movements of the camera and instantly spot any alarming symptoms.
It’s an attempt to replicate remotely the in-person doctor visit, complete with the tongue depressors and internal examinations. It’s a good idea, but, perhaps not surprisingly given the rapid evolution of video conferencing telehealth, TytoCare is not the only player in the remote stethoscope market.
Telehealth’s Suite of Video Calling Tools
There are several other digital stethoscopes on the market or in development that aim to play the same role of the TytoHome. They range from the highly specialized, to the bulky, to the more stylish, to the very stylish.
That last device, the Clinicloud, is probably the only one that can match the versatility and smartphone integration TytoCare is promising. It’s a thermometer and stethoscope in one, and lets you quickly send your information to a waiting world of medical opinions through your phone.
The big difference is it leans toward recommending in-person clinical visits, rather than offering them directly over a video link.
That may be the more responsible thing to do, but any concerning symptoms picked up on a video call can quickly be turned into advice to seek immediate in-person medical assistance.
So neither the Clinicloud nor the others mentioned above look quite so innovative and multi-functional as TytoCare’s offering. And none look quite so close to becoming the most essential item in any future first-aid kit.
Keep a Virtual Doctor in Your First-Aid Kit
It wouldn’t take much to move the TytoHome from illness detection to emergency care.
Intel has developed technology that lets doctors remotely check the depth, temperature, and tissue damage of a wound using video conferencing.
Shrink that service down to something that will fit within a TytoCare-sized multi-purpose package and you’ve got a complete diagnosis kit for serious accidents and incidents wherever they should occur.
It’ll still be up to you to apply any necessary bandages and stabilize the patient before first responders can arrive, but now you’ll have expert medical assistance watching over you–literally.
The TytoHome is currently retailing for $299, but give the manufacturing and marketing process enough time to drop that down a little and it could soon become a part of the first-aid kit you keep in your home, in your car, and in the office.
With partnership developments with remote doctors, leading hospitals, and local ambulance services, all your basic health information could be waiting in a cloud somewhere for the day your child wakes with a burning fever, or your hiking buddy badly rolls an ankle, or you take a tumble on the stairs.
At VC Daily, we’re envisioning a world where we’ll all have little medical links like these stashed in kits, or even clipped on our belts, everywhere we go.
Image Source: Flickr CC User Marcin Wichary