Q&A with Dr. Tanya Dansky—Learn About MemorialCare’s FDA-cleared Virtual Exam Kit
Can you imagine having a comprehensive medical exam performed by a physician virtually from the comfort of your home? For the first time, MemorialCare's FDA-cleared Virtual Exam Kit powered by TytoCare makes it possible. The future of healthcare is here! It saves you the hassle of trips to the doctor's office or urgent care. MemorialCare is the only health system in Orange County to offer this capability to its patients.
I wanted to learn more about these Virtual Exam Kits and was grateful to speak to Dr. Tanya Dansky, the Senior Medical Director at MemorialCare Medical Group.
1.Telehealth really took off during Covid, and it looks like it's here to stay. Just like working from home is becoming the new norm, many of us are finding that we can save time with telehealth appointments with the doctor. Did the pandemic initiate your interest in offering virtual exams?
A. MemorialCare has been investing in digital health since before the pandemic, and we were lucky to have a lot of the infrastructure to support virtual visits already in place when the pandemic hit. When the national emergency was declared, we were able to leverage that to make virtual visits widely available within days. In addition to video visits, we were able to offer services like online scheduling for virtual visits, a symptom checker to route you to the right care setting, and eVisits for quick health needs that don’t require an appointment. Since then, we’ve expanded these virtual offerings because we see how convenient it is for our patients.
2. How does MemorialCare's Virtual Exam Kit work?
A. Our Virtual Exam Kit connects to your mobile device and your virtual visit to allow you to transmit data from the Kit to your provider in real time. Once the kit is set up and paired, patients can schedule an On Demand visit with us 24/7 from the comfort of their homes.
3. What can you use the Virtual Exam Kit for?
A. You can use the Kit for anything you would use a video visit for as well as things like cough, ear infection/pain, bronchitis, sinus infection, pink eye, COVID or flu symptoms, sore throat, fever, headache, allergies, nausea/vomiting, shingles, lower back pain, minor superficial wounds, or upper respiratory infections. With the virtual exam kit, the provider can listen to your heart and lungs, look into your ears and throat, and even get a clear view of your skin to diagnose rashes and prescribe the best treatment.
4. If someone is interested in the Virtual Exam Kit, how would they obtain one?
A. Just visit memorialcare.org/tytocare and click on the Buy Now link
5. Does insurance cover them at this point?
A. Insurance does not cover the virtual exam kit, but the actual visits you do with providers are covered the same as a video visit would be with us.
6. Can I use HSA/FSA funds to purchase?
A. Yes! You can use your HSA/FSA funds to purchase! Your FSA funds are lost at the end of the year if you don’t use them, so this could be a great way to take advantage of them.
7. Can patients travel with the device?
A. Yes, you can travel with the device to receive care from us anywhere throughout California. The device and all the attachments fit nicely into the carrying case and it’s compact enough to take with you on the go!
8. What has been the feedback from your physicians about this new technology?
A. Our providers love seeing patients with the Virtual Exam Kit! Sometimes it can be frustrating to see a patient over video and not have access to vital signs and physical examination tools like the stethoscope or otoscope – but with the Virtual Exam Kit, our providers can more confidently and accurately diagnose and treat patients.
9. For some people visiting a doctor can be stressful. Are you finding that the virtual exams are alleviating their anxiety? What is the feedback?
A. Patients love using the device. When you’re not feeling well, it’s not fun to get in the car and wait in a crowded room with strangers! Not to mention finding childcare or having to bring your children with you. It’s also a great option for seniors who find it difficult to get back and forth to the doctor’s office.
10. The Virtual Exam Kits were designed to treat acute, preventive, and chronic conditions. Can you explain more? How has it been helpful for MemorialCare patients?
A. The Virtual Exam Kit is helpful in SO MANY cases – from an ear infection in the middle of the night to chronic conditions that require a provider to listen to heart/lung sounds regularly.
11. What is surprising about the Virtual Exam Kit that most people wouldn't realize?
A. We have had patients that have received new diagnoses with the kit – one of our patients had not been seen by their PCP in a while and the doctor was able to diagnose a heart condition with the Virtual Exam Kit – that's life-changing stuff!
12. Is this technology available for children as well?
A. Yes, in fact, we see a lot of very pleased parents and children through our Virtual Exam Kits, especially in the middle of the night.
13. Are all your healthcare providers using the device or is it only available with certain doctors?
A. All of our providers in our Virtual Urgent Care are using the device and many of our PCPs. The number of providers using the device is constantly growing as we bring more and more of our team on board.
14. What are the attachments that come with the device and are they similar to tools doctors use in their office?
A. The basic Virtual Exam Kit comes with a stethoscope, otoscope, tongue depressor, thermometer, and skin exam capabilities. Patients can add a blood pressure cuff and pulse oximeter to their kit as well. Our providers share that some of the attachments are even better than real life because they can zoom in and record images.
15. Can patients also receive prescriptions after the virtual exam?
A. Yes, just like a visit with your doctor, you can be prescribed medication if needed.
16. Who sees the data from the virtual exams, and is it HIPAA compliant?
A. Yes, all data is encrypted and HIPAA compliant. Your providers are charting in your medical record, just like they are in the office! All the information will flow through into your myChart patient portal too so you have access to the visit data afterward.
17. The kit costs $299. What do you get for your money?
A. The Virtual Exam Kit is hugely valuable because it brings you peace of mind. It can be scary to wake up in the middle of the night with a sick child or not feeling well yourself and with the Kit, you can do a comprehensive exam with a provider in minutes. You’re also saving TIME! With these visits, you know when it will start so you don’t have to sit in a waiting room – you can be resting or taking care of yourself instead. And if you’re able to save an overnight ED visit – that is priceless!
18. Do you need any training to use the device?
A. The Kit only takes a few minutes to set up – similar to how you would set up any new technology. All you need to do is connect to your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth pair with your mobile device. Once the device is paired, you can practice on your own or complete a Welcome Visit with a live clinician to do a practice visit. During an exam, the device itself provides easy-to-follow prompts on how to use the various attachments.
19. Can the device and attachments be reused?
A. Yes, the device is designed for use over and over again and the whole family can use it. Many attachments like the tongue depressor and otoscope cap are dishwasher safe.
20. Can you tell me more about the MemorialCare Virtual Clinic solution?
A. A MemorialCare Virtual Clinic is where we use the Virtual Exam Kit and a few other components (for example, disposable components like in your doctor’s office) in a private space within a campus (employer or school). A member of that campus could use the kit while onsite to connect to one of our providers instead of having to travel to an urgent care. When that patient is done, the device is sterilized and ready for the next patient. Imagine having your child be able to see a doctor at school instead of having to leave work to take them to a clinic!
Image courtesy of TytoCare