This winter Mia had her first ear infection. Everyone in my house was trading a cold back and forth and she seemed to be better, until suddenly she wasn’t. There wasn’t a lot of sneezing, coughing or other obvious cold symptoms, but she had a fever and was clearly in pain. After calling our pediatrician’s advice nurse and getting a late night appointment at urgent care, the doctor took about 10 seconds to tell us she had an ear infection and needed antibiotics.
I didn’t know about it at the time, but the Oto HOME by CellScope could have saved us time, pain and a trip to a pediatric urgent care center packed with sick kids. When I heard about a few weeks later I immediately added it to my top five apps and services of 2014.
The Oto HOME is a small camera attachment that uses the iPhone's camera to capture photo and video of the ear drum. Combined with CellScope’s app, users can send those videos to a doctor for a remote diagnosis. Within two hours, the doctor will reply via the app to your images with advice on what do to next—wait it out, pick up a prescription, see a doctor or something else.
The Oto HOME kit costs $79 and comes with everything needed to set up the attachment on an iPhone 5, 5s or 6, and includes the first doctor consultation. The service is available 24/7 every day of the year including holidays. Consultations after the first are $49—possibly more than your copay, but balanced against other factors like comfort, appointment availability and more, it could easily make sense for lots of families. AND it qualifies as an HSA and FSA expense, so save those receipts.
The idea of skipping a doctor’s visit is revolutionary for parents who want to keep sick and cranky kids comfortable, much more easily accomplished at home rather than in a waiting room, especially late at night when kids seem to get sick. Whether you have one kid that’s occasionally sick, one that’s prone to ear infections, or a couple of kids that are trading germs back and forth, the benefits are instantly clear.
The folks at CellScope sent me an Oto HOME to try at home and it is incredibly easy. In under five minutes I’d downloaded the app, set up the hardware on my phone and taken some shots inside Mia’s ears. I recommend opening the package and trying it on your kids to get a feel for how it works while they're healthy and ideally less squirmy. I'm not a doctor and it took me a couple of tries to get comfortable with putting something in Mia's ear. The Oto HOME app wisely has an arrow that appears on screen to guide you toward the ear drum so you get a clear image, again great for people who aren't familiar with the inside of the ear! By my second try I had the hang of it.
MAMA SAYS: The Oto HOME is a brilliant addition to the modern medicine cabinet. For the peace of mind alone the Oto HOME is worth it! I hope we never have to deal with another ear infection but if it comes I'm grateful we have a tool to help identify what's wrong and get her healthy as soon as possible.
If you want to pick up an Oto HOME of your own, use the code ‘MAMASGUIDE’ to get 25% off AND your first doctor evaluation for free.