MedWand talks payer interest in its multi-sensor, remote monitoring handheld device

By Aditi Pai
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Remote monitoring joint venture MedWand announced today at the HxRefactored event in Boston that a payer in Wisconsin has already filled an order for its device, which is still just a prototype. MedWand is a partnership between direct primary care company MedLion and engineering design firm Cypher Scientific.

MedWand debuted its remote diagnostic device of the same name, at CES earlier this year. It is a handheld medical scanner that combines a thermometer, heart rate sensor, blood oxygen sensor, otoscope, and digital stethoscope. The device will retail for $249 alone or $695 with a tablet preloaded with all the required software, PlasticsToday reported at the time. It is set to launch later this year.

“Insurance companies are actually our biggest market right now,” MedWand Founder and MedLion CEO Dr. Samir Qamar said in a panel at the event. “We haven’t made a device yet, it’s just a prototype. We already have our first order from an insurance company in Wisconsin. They are using it to curb their sickness patients away from the ER and away from urgent care. Case in point, someone has asthma and they call for a telemedicine appointment today, chances are they are going to be told to go to the ER or urgent care because you can’t listen to their lungs or get a pulse ox. With our device you can. We are going to start taking care of those patients wherever they are, whether they’re at work or at home.”

When asked what he thought was lacking in the digital health industry, Qamar said he wished there was more of a move towards remote diagnostics, and that currently, telemedicine consists mostly of video chats.

“I’m a little frightened of how everyone is ok with telemedicine because they get to get a diagnosis very quickly from their smartphone or their computer,” Qamar said. “And that’s scary to me as a doctor because I know a lot of things can be missed, so I think not seeing enough emphasis on remote vitals and remote examination capabilities is disturbing.”

Last year, Khosla Ventures Founder Vinod Khosla said something similar at another event — that the telemedicine technology being implemented today is simplistic, though it serves a very useful purpose.

"There’s no technology in telemedicine, or very little, from my point of view, because there’s no new data," Khosla said. "It’s the same doctors making same subjective judgement. Instead of you sitting in their office, they’re doing it remotely."

Last year, a similar company, Israeli digital health device maker TytoCare raised $11 million in a round led by Cambia Health Solutions for a handheld device that can help patients examine their mouth, throat, eye, heart, lung, and skin.