Teladoc is the latest telemedicine company to incorporate connected devices into its offering via an expanded partnership with FDA-cleared connected thermometer company Kinsa.
The Teladoc app will automatically detect the Kinsa app on a user’s phone, and guide the user to Kinsa. Users can also import up to 10 days of temperature readings into the Teladoc platform from the Kinsa app. That data goes into the physician's view of the patient's health record.
"Kinsa submits not just a single temperature reading, but ... the temperature curve over a day or two days," Teladoc Chief Medical Officer Henry DePhillips told MobiHealthNews on the sidelines at HIMSS. "Diagnostically speaking as a physician, the temperature pattern actually helps distinguish between a bacterial and viral infection."
DePhillips said that the reason Teladoc hasn't done extensive connected health partnerships in the past is because many devices don't pass the test of being (1) ubiquitous and accessible and (2) clinically robust.
"The key with devices is they’re great and they’re sexy and they’re cool but they have to be in the right place at the right time when they’re needed," he said. "Devices are not that ubiquitous and price is sometimes a barrier. The Kinsa thermometer is the best yet because it’s inexpensive enough to where employers are sometimes providing them to all their employees."
The device is $19.99 on Kinsa's website, but DePhillips said at least one Teladoc employer client, a large bank, bought 11,000 in bulk to distribute to all their employees.
Increased connectivity with devices is something of a trend in telemedicine right now, with American Well recently partnering with TytoCare and Doctor on Demand working with Australian startup CliniCloud a few years ago.
DePhillips expects the next connected device partnership for Teladoc will relate to ear care. But what's missing for now is still that level of ubiquity.
"I can tell you what the next thing is, and that is digital otoscopes," he said. "So there are ear-lookers on the marketplace. There’s a really nice one on the market that’s $500. Now there are lower cost ones and they’re not the Rolls Royce of otoscopes, but they’re enough to get the job done and a mom can be sort of taught how to do that in a child that has recurring ear infections. So it’s only a matter of time."