The Medical Futurist | June 4, 2019
Each year 2-3 million non-melanoma and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally according to statistics from the WHO. Thus, every tool has to be deployed for early detection and intervention. As smartphone penetration already reached the quarter of the Earth’s population, smartphone apps seem to be a viable way to go against skin conditions. Here, we collected the top dermatology apps to aid your digital skin care.
As smartphones take over the world, dermatology apps multiply
As technology continues to advance, so too does its accessibility to the general population. In 2013, only 56 percent of Americans owned a smartphone, which climbed to 77 percent in 2017. Next year, there were around 1.56 billion smartphones sales worldwide, and the user number reached more than 2.71 billion by now. With planet Earth’s population over 7.6 billion, these numbers show that approximately 20 percent of all people got a new smartphone last year.
As a consequence, smartphone apps of all categories multiplied exponentially. No matter whether you want to add more cats to your life through Cat Paint or want to know what ghosts are talking about around you, the right app is just a tap away. In dermatology, a study published in 2017 found 526 apps corresponding to an 80.8 percent growth in smartphone-based platforms since 2014. The boom is understandable: as you can easily detect if you have a skin problem, and smartphones coupled with super-fast internet connection make it easy to check images against databases, send pictures or footage anywhere, self-surveillance solutions, disease guides, educational apps as well as telehealth platforms appeared naturally in dermatology. Here’s our take on the most useful and efficient digital solutions for the health of your skin.
Self-care and telemedicine for patients
The options of teledermatology services, as well as self-care platforms, are soaring. FirstDerm, Spruce, Direct Dermatology, SkinMDnow, Zwivel, iDoc24, SkinVision all work based on the same principle: they promise patients the option to self-check their symptoms and then to connect to a dermatologist online for consultation within a very short period of time. Usually, people can load up their photos to a certain platform, and smart algorithms and/or dermatologists give advice based on it.
The Amsterdam-based company developed a smartphone app to easily evaluate risk factors for skin cancer and keep track of potentially problematic moles. So far, the app was downloaded in over 1.2 million instances globally, with the most downloads coming from the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Germany. The smart algorithm coupled with dermatologists’ expertise has found over 27,000 cases of skin cancer. The company works closely with Generali in Germany and CZ in the Netherlands, providing its entire insured population with the service.
Matthew Enevoldson, PR Manager at SkinVision told The Medical Futurist that technology such as their own is becoming more integrated within the health system, to both ensure that those who need treatment are made aware of it and that those who have an unfounded concern do not take up valuable time and resources.
The award-winning dermatology service is present in more than 160 countries and available in 7 languages. The platform had already more than 20,000 skin concerns submitted from all over the world. It also turned out that the majority of the issues were rather harmless: iDoc24 found 70 percent of all their reviewed cases could be self-treated and they advised the patient to undertake further tests in all the remaining 30 percent of cases.
It is a win-win for everyone: patients do not have to wait in crowded waiting rooms for an exam, while dermatologists can deal with the easier cases in shorter time online. The service guarantees a very short response time – within hours – and a 24/7 online customer service.
The team behind iDoc24 also developed and powers the First Derm platform, which is very similar to the iDoc24 app: it gives access to a dermatologist through a connected device. It launched in 2014 as an iOS app, available in 6 languages, and first of all provides mothers an on-the-go skincare assessment tool as first step guidance on skincare concerns within their families, including infants and children.
Thus, worried mothers only have to send photos of the mosquito bites or rashes of their little children to a licensed dermatologist connected through the app anonymously, and photos will be reviewed and assessed within 24 hours of submission.
The artificial intelligence-based app was developed by two engineers previously working by Google, and it aims to compensate for the lack of dermatologists in India. In the continent-sized country, approximately 11,000 skin care specialists are working, which means less than one dermatologist for 100,000 people.
Cureskin aims to help alleviate the situation. It can diagnose six types of common skin conditions – pimples, acne, scars, dark spots, pigmentation, and dark circles. The user takes a photo, the algorithm analyses the skin issues, the app’s chatbot asks a few questions and, depending on the inputs, the A.I. recommends an eight-week skincare regimen.
Apps to keep patients in the loop
Are you going on holiday and worried about the harmful UV radiation? Would you like to know more about your skin type and how you could take more care of the health of your skin? As, based on the results of my whole genome sequencing, I have a moderate risk for melanoma, a reliable and easily accessible source of information could be incredibly useful for me, too, thus I tried to find the best tools possible.
The American Academy of Dermatology developed the Dermatology A to Z, specifically designed to serve consumers looking for skin health information. The app gives users evidence-based, dermatologist-approved health information, insights on diseases affecting skin, hair, and nails, and the latest medical and cosmetic treatments. Utilizing the smartphone’s GPS tracking system, the app can show the UV Index in real time to fight against dangers of ultraviolet radiation as well as find the nearest dermatologist in the area.
The app was born out of necessity: Nav Gosal, Founder of Eczema Tracker has been managing his son’s severe eczema, food allergies, and asthma for years, and wants to help patients with the same issues.
Through the app, users can check pollen, mold, temperature, humidity levels for any location, track the flare-up of eczema, and get useful pieces of advice on how to control and manage the condition for all ages. Through constant monitoring, patients have the chance to follow what triggers their symptoms and whether their medication can actually alleviate them. It’s a jackpot software for eczema troubles.
Smart clinician support
Did it already happen to you that you developed an odd lesion on your skin and didn’t know what to do? Usually, patients go to their primary care physician for advice or try to ask in the pharmacy on the corner what the smiling pharmacists recommend. However, general practice physicians, as well as pharmacists, get very little training on skin conditions, so the chance for misdiagnosis is high. That’s what smartphone apps developed for physicians aim to go against.
Over 1700 hospitals, clinics, and medical schools use VisualDx to aid diagnostic accuracy, enhance medical education, and improve patient outcomes.
VisualDx is an excellent source for diagnostic clinical decision support. Searchable by symptoms, signs, and patient factors, it represents the fastest path to a customized differential diagnosis. Tens of thousands of images and graphics speed comparison, recognition, and the final verdict on any given skin condition. Beyond validating diagnoses, VisualDx is used to access the next steps for disease management, and for patient education.
Skin problems, especially rare conditions, do not only “outsmart” general practitioners or pharmacists, but also dermatologists themselves. This application helps them avoid exactly that. The Dermatology Atlas was developed mainly for the purposes to provide an easy way to medical students, dermatologists, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to understand any given skin condition better. The Atlas contains cases and each one goes with images, etiology and treatment options. A truly useful source of information for anyone dealing with dermatology issues.