Medical peripherals can combine with a smartphone to create the function of an ultrasound machine, an EKG reader, or an otoscope, to name just a few diagnostic devices. But without buying anything extra, nearly every consumer mobile device has a camera of some sort built-in. That means that when it comes to dermatology, most patients have, right in their pockets, the tools to gather much of the data their doctor needs to treat them.
Teledermatology was a major topic at the American Telemedicine Association conference in Austin, Texas, in particular the “store and forward” kind, which is teledermatology where patients take pictures and send them to their dermatologist, who sends a treatment plan back — rather than conducting the examination in realtime. Just as the country is experiencing a dermatologist shortage, sufficiently high quality cameras are becoming widespread enough to support remote skin care.
At ATA, a number of direct-to-consumer teledermatology providers spoke about their different approaches to teledermatology. Mark Seraly represented DermatologistOnCall, an online platform that connects patients to dermatologists, David J. Wong spoke on behalf of Direct Dermatology, an online dermatology practice, and Ryan Hambley talked about startup YoDerm which hones in on diagnosis, treatment and prescription for acne specifically. Jeff Benobio, a Kaiser Permanente dermatologist, rounded out the panel, but as an integrated healthcare system Kaiser Permanente’s stood out as the only one who wasn’t thinking in terms of D2C.
“Dermatology is all about what it looks like,” said Seraly, noting that most of a dermatologist’s early training is making diagnoses from photographs. “Every dermatologist, I am confident, when they leave their training they are already naturally trained teledermatologists.”
The presenters agreed that patients’ cameras are good diagnostic tools. Keep reading>>