Teledermatology: how the smartphone is shaping the future of medicine

  • 17 Nov
  • 2 min

A new study suggests that parent-supplied photographs could be a medical solution for dermatology care in the United States, where there are fewer than 300 board-certified physicians for 75 million children.

According to a study published in JAMA Dermatology, pediatric dermatology care could be provided based on photographs parents would take of their children's skin. Meaning that nowadays, the use of a smartphone could save them an unnecessary visit. The study was conducted on a six-month period last year by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia – the United States' first pediatric hospital  on 40 patient families. Only half of them received photography instruction sheets; but almost all of them sent high-quality enough photographs that permitted to deliver a conclusive remote diagnosis, and the concordance with the in-person diagnosis was as high as 89%. Patrick McMahon, author of the study, estimates that 10% to 30% of all 200 million pediatric office visits each year are skin complaints. Thus, smartphone photography, because of quality and image transmission, could improve the access to specialty care by erasing geographic, time and financial borders, and make it easier for 20 to 60 million parents to get a diagnosis in a country where pediatric dermatologists are in short supply. While an IHS Technology Report found that telemedicine will attract 7 million patient users by 2018, the 2017 American Well's Telehealth Index suggests that 50 million U.S. consumers would switch their current primary care provider to one that offers telehealth. If smartphone-based diagnosis are not new, they are definitely on the rise. 

By Marie-Eléonore Noiré