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Pushti, Desai; Olivia, Fassett; Vishal, Kobla; Alexis, Nunn; Emma, Soetebier
Rethinking the Oropharyngeal Exam to Limit Disease Transmission and Enable Remote Examination
COVID-19 has changed the way our society perceives the threat of droplet disease transmission, especially in healthcare. Every year in the United States there are approximately 129 million oropharyngeal exams. During this exam, a physician uses a light and tongue depressor to inspect the mouth and upper throat to diagnose conditions ranging in severity from strep throat to oral cancer. Beyond COVID-19, this examination poses a major risk to physicians in contracting many droplet transmitted illnesses from direct exposure to a patient’s open mouth. While the popularity and availability of telemedicine visits has increased since the start of the pandemic, the oropharyngeal exam is nearly impossible for healthcare providers to coach patients through remotely, making in-office exams a necessity. Fearing getting sick, some providers have candidly admitted their in-office exams are shorter and less thorough, which could lead to incorrect diagnoses for their patients. We created the Tonsiliscope to combat this multifaceted problem by enabling a closed mouth examination. Our intuitive and ergonomic device images the oropharynx in a stable, user-friendly way enabling patients to perform their own exam remotely. Until now, the only record of this exam has been in a physician’s recollection of the patient’s oral cavity, but the Tonsiliscope will capture images to be reviewed later or sent to consulting physicians. Our preliminary prototype of the Tonsiliscope was analyzed by a panel of physicians, and, on average, 80% of test subject videos were detailed enough for the physician to feel comfortable making a diagnosis without any additional examination. Additionally, the Tonsiliscope was found to reduce the number of droplets transmitted in a standard oropharyngeal examination by 90.8%. With all this in mind, the Tonsiliscope has the potential to be the new standard for oropharyngeal examinations to make quality care accessible to all patients.
Dr. Mark, Molckovsky, MD
Primary Care Physician
Laurel Health Centers