April 5, 2023

Northern Health innovating virtual examination using TytoCare

Northern Health is the first public health service in Australia to launch a digital examination tool to enable better access to specialist assessment care for patients from their own home.

TytoCare has developed a small, portable hand-held device that includes a comprehensive exam kit with multiple attachments including a digital stethoscope for heart and lung examinations, a thermometer, and a tongue depressor to examine throat and tonsils.

The device is designed to enable a comprehensive medical exam from any location and includes a hand-held, all-in-one toolkit comprised of a camera, microphone and screen. The device is easily paired with a user-friendly app and clinician dashboard to become a complete telehealth platform for sharing exam data and conducting live video exams.

TytoCare is a telehealth company using AI to transform primary and tertiary care by putting health in the hands of patients and Hospital In The Home (HITH) staff.  TytoCare also seamlessly connects patients to specialist clinicians to provide the best virtual home examination and diagnosis solutions.

The Northern Health Clinical Leadership, Effectiveness and Outcomes (CLEO) team is currently facilitating a pilot implementation of the device and a digital stethoscope into HITH to support the Heart Failure Virtual Ward. This makes Northern Health the first public health service in the country to implement this innovative solution.

Dr Katharine See, Chief Health Outcomes Officer CLEO, said TytoCare formed part of their mission to implement new interventions and technologies that will facilitate better health outcomes for our patients and community.

“TytoCare is already being used widely and successfully internationally, with encouraging results,” she said.

“We wanted to bring these same technologies to the Australian healthcare setting. The TytoCare device is an innovation to support the Heart Failure Virtual Ward Team to deliver remote healthcare where appropriate.”

“We hope this will benefit patients by reducing the need to be cared for in hospital and provide faster access to their clinical team virtually. Physical examination has not previously been possible via telehealth for specialists and nurse practitioners. Now, with TytoCare, they are able to hear the heart and lung sounds real time and make clinical decisions using the results of the virtual examination, as well as the observations from the HITH nursing staff.”

The pilot program will run until December 2023, with an aim of assessing whether the introduction of a digital stethoscope enhances physical cardiac examination and provides heart failure nurse practitioners and medical staff with the information they need to care for heart failure patients virtually.

Lynne Santamaria, Nurse Unit Manager HITH, said with patients being managed in their homes as an inpatient, the face-to-face contact with their specialty team decreases, however, TytoCare will change this.

“TytoCare will allow for closer interaction between the doctors, nurse practitioners and their patients by promoting ongoing support and safety for their patients,” she said.

“The HITH nursing staff are excited about trialling this new tool and the benefits it will provide our patients.”

Associate Professor Gautam Vaddadi, Heart Failure Head of Unit, said the TytoCare device will support a new Northern Health program that delivers hospital level care for patients with heart failure in their own home.

“Heart failure is the fastest growing cardiovascular condition worldwide. Heart failure is a life-long chronic illness that causes patients to be repeatedly admitted to hospital, and sadly, the death rate from this condition is about 50 per cent at five years from diagnosis,” he said.

“The TytoCare device is a device that nurses can use when they visit a patient at home – the stethoscope tool allows for a physical examination to be conducted, recording of heart and lung sounds to be stored and that examination can be reviewed by the treating team at the hospital.”

“This is critical for assessing fluid on the lungs, which is a common problem that inflicts patients with heart failure. This technology will allow us to make the best medical decisions we can when treating our patients with heart failure, at home.”

By the end of the pilot, the aim is to have the TytoCare device implemented into other virtual wards across Northern Health, including paediatrics.

Dr See said the introduction and implementation of new technologies like the TytoCare device, is an exciting opportunity for Northern Health to provide and support healthcare for individuals.

“As a remote digital solution, TytoCare increases the value of consultation for both patients and clinicians by allowing high quality remote examination, while also optimising patient flow and access to care,” she said.

“One of the challenges of providing high quality virtual care is the inability to effectively examine patients. TytoCare bridges that key gap, allowing patients to receive equivalent care from the comfort of their home.”

“This in turn increases health equity and access to care.”

To learn more about TytoCare, visit CLEO’s Intranet page.

Featured image: Tracy Radford Registered Nurse, HITH, Elisha O’Dowd, Effectiveness and Outcomes Manager, CLEO, Alyssa Lunardon Registered Nurse, HITH and Hilal Humru Registered Nurse, HITH.