iDoc24 study finds smartphone-enabled dermatology screening more efficient for referrals

By Aditi Pai
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handyscopeTeledermatology referrals that use a smartphone with an attached dermoscope allowed dermatologists to manage their patients faster and more efficiently than by traditional paper referrals, according to a paper published in medical journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica.

The study was conducted by Alexander Borve, the CEO of iDoc24, which has offices in Stolkholm, Sweden and San Francisco.

All participants in the trial were seen by a primary care doctor for a "suspicious skin lesion". The 122 doctors in the study referred 746 patients through the traditional paper-based system and 816 patients via iDoc's software with the help of an iPhone-connected dermoscope, called Handyscope. The dermoscope is iDoc24-branded but was made by a Germany-based medical imaging company, called FotoFinder, which is an investor in iDoc24.

iDoc24 found that when physicians referred patients via dermoscope, patients who needed surgery had shorter wait times, triage decisions were more reliable, the time needed to diagnose and treat skin cancer was reduced, and more patients from this group were treated on their first visit to the dermatologist. Four of the teledermoscopy referrals were excluded from the trial because of poor image quality.

The dermatologist responded to the primary care doctor teledermoscopy referral in less than two days on average, while the dermatologist responded to the primary care doctor who referred the patient via traditional means in five days on average. The doctors who triaged patients using teledermoscopy marked 19 patients as high priority malignant melanoma patients. These doctors were accurate in rating the priority of the visit. Using the paper-based system, 75 percent of malignant melanoma referrals that were rated at medium or low priority were incorrect. In 98 percent of the cases, when a primary care doctor used teledermoscopy, they referred the patient, analyzed the images and came up with a treatment plan within 24 hours.

This study was a followup to the company's preliminary trial conducted last year. In this first trial, the company found that teledermatology, conducted using an iPhone, a dedicated app, and a connected dermascope, can be roughly as effective as a face-to-face dermatology consultation.

In May iDoc24 ran a skin cancer public awareness campaign in San Francisco with a sunscreen company. The company provided cancer screenings for people who were passing through a park using iDoc24's other app, First Derm, a consumer facing question and answer app that launched in early 2014. iDoc24 employees performed 99 screenings in the park and found 10 possible cancerous legions, two possible cases of melanoma, and one possible case of basal cell carcinoma.