Two Melville companies have struck a deal with Uber Health to make it easier for Long Island doctors to conduct high-tech house calls using a robotic device that fits in a suitcase.
Under the deal, Uber Health will transport the MobileDoc 2, a medical device created by Medpod Inc. with the assistance of Henry Schein Inc., to patients who can't travel to a medical facility. A telepresenter — usually a member of the doctor's staff who knows how to operate the device — is also driven to the patient's location.
The device, a multifunction medical cart folded into a portable, carry-on-sized case, enables health care practitioners to conduct remote telediagnostic examinations for patients in nontraditional care settings, such as homes, offices, schools, ambulances and senior care facilities.
"If a doctor is examining a patient remotely and needs to get equipment on them, he can dispatch a unit to the patient," said Jack Tawil, chairman and CEO at Medpod, which has 14 employees.
Tawil said the Uber Health service is being tested in 15 markets, including Long Island.
Uber offers health services via the Uber Health app, which is available in the Apple or Google Play stores. The ride-hailing service allows health care organizations to schedule and pay for rides to and from medical offices for patients. The cost is based on standard Uber rates. Patients do not need an Uber Health account.
The MobileDoc 2, which costs about $26,000, is Medpod’s second-generation mobile microcart and features professional-grade medical devices and instruments — such as dermatoscopes to examine skin lesions and electrocardiograms to detect heart attacks and heart rhythm problems.
The device can also capture patients’ temperatures, blood pressure, height, weight, and body mass index (BMI).
The 33-pound device has mobile cellular service and Wi-Fi as well as live video, audio, clinical and lab data streaming, Henry Schein and Medpod said in a news release. Henry Schein is the exclusive seller, marketer and distributor of the co-branded device.
Todd Stack, the senior director and general manager for Medpod at Henry Schein, said the rollout is part of a larger medical trend of expanding telemedicine services.
The Uber Health deal helps medical professionals "get closer to patients, gives them better access to care at a lower cost," Stack said.
For example, Stack said Medpod medical carts have been used to lower costs when caring for patients who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Providing care for such patients can be "highly complex, in a group setting, and it's very disruptive for them to leave the group home," Stack said, adding that because it's sometimes hard for these patients to verbalize what's bothering them, "they're often brought to a hospital by an ambulance."
Stack said Medpod units were distributed to group homes as part of a state Department of Health grant, resulting in 86 percent of emergency room visits being avoided. The test involved 2,076 special needs/complex medical patients in group homes, Henry Schein officials said.