So Much Parenting, So Little Time
It’s often said that one of the most transformative experiences in our lifetime is becoming a parent. At the same time, parenthood is known to come with countless demands and so little time—but have you ever stopped to think about exactly why that is?
With children come commitments—homework, soccer games, science fairs, and sometimes, more doctor’s visits than you can count. And while school and sports activities are scheduled ahead of time, sick days often come without warning.
According to the CDC, in 2019 alone, more than 25% of children had one or more visits to an urgent care center or retail health clinic1. And for many years, ear infections have been the most common cause of doctor’s visits for children in the United States2. In fact, while anyone can have an ear infection, children get them more frequently than adults, and by age three, more than 80% of children will have had at least one ear infection2.
Most parents remember those sleepless nights—up with their child, wondering if they have yet another ear infection, and scrambling the next day to get a doctor’s appointment.
An At-Home Health Device for Digital-First Parents
In recent years, there has been a rise in digital health—from fitness apps to track your heartbeat to reminders to take your medicine. But despite there being so many self-diagnostic tools and support apps out there, parents across America were still losing sleep, so the makers of Children’s TYLENOL® began to wonder how they could continue to help support the health of children in a way that’s convenient for today’s digital-savvy parents.
In 2019, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health connected with Dr. Erik Douglas, CEO of a startup called CellScope. Erik and his team were pioneers in mobile imaging, creating technology to turn the phone into a tool for at-home care. Their products had been used by thousands of clinicians and home users, collecting a massive library of data—however, the product had some challenges.
The CellScope attachment mechanism required constant revisions to keep up with the changing design of cellphone shapes and cameras, and as a new brand, wasn’t broadly known by consumers. This is where Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health was able to step in. Armed with decades of consumer insights and the newfound knowledge that parents needed this convenient, at-home solution, our team of scientists bridged their innovation capabilities with the acquired CellScope technology to upgrade the device and develop a companion app. This combination ultimately led to what is now the SmartCheck™ Digital Ear Scope from Children’s TYLENOL®.
SmartCheck™ is an easy-to-use, at-home otoscope that was built to help doctors check for ear infections remotely—saving parents both the stress and time that comes with an in-person doctor’s visit. What’s an otoscope you ask? It’s the device doctor’s use to look into your ear canal and eardrum during a check-up.
The SmartCheck™ device clips directly to smart phones, using an app to help parents:
- Capture recordings of a child’s eardrum
- Share the visuals with doctors for a remote consultation
- Track ear health history over time
Hear, There, Everywhere
On the journey to find a digital, at-home health solution for parents, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health knew that as the most common cause of pediatric visits impacting millions of children per year—ear infections were the health condition they wanted to focus on.
“After three years of work on the SmartCheck™ device and app—which were tested by doctors, nurses, moms, and dads—we created a user-friendly product that brings healthcare closer to home, saving parents the time that they so often need,” said Dr. Eleanor Small, Manager of Product Development, Self Care R&D, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health.
Currently, the SmartCheck™ App includes animated training videos and is available for use on most iPhones. In the future, the Children’s TYLENOL® team plans to expand the product to Androids.
“As society continues to rely on digital tools for various aspects of daily life, our team is exploring how we can leverage technology to improve accessibility of at-home healthcare,” said Eleanor. “Our hope is that SmartCheck™ will pave the way for future innovations in this space so more consumers can take their own health—as well of the health of children—into their own hands.”
Music to every parent’s ears.