Dermatologists can identify skin diseases using smartphone photos

Dermatologists can identify skin diseases using smartphone photos

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Study team in Philadelphia tests remote diagnosis

A research team at the Philadelphia Children's Hospital found in a recent study that the quality of smartphone photos is sufficient to make a reliable diagnosis of skin diseases. In areas where pediatric dermatologists are lacking, this remote diagnosis could be useful in the future. With the help of smartphone cameras, participating parents took high-quality photos of their child's skin condition and sent the images to a dermatologist. He then made a diagnosis based on the photos. The results of the study indicate that doctors are able to make reliable diagnoses using this method.

Forty patient families participated in the study, which took place between March and September 2016. Half of the subjects received precise instructions on how to take the photos. The other half received no instructions. Each subject was examined personally by a dermatologist and additionally assessed by remote diagnosis using the photos of another dermatologist. The researchers now compared the diagnoses. Overall, the scientists found that the photographic diagnosis coincided with the personal diagnosis in 83 percent of the cases. Only three photos were of insufficient quality for a diagnosis. If you take this out of the rating, the agreement was even 89 percent.

The results of the study are positive

"Our study shows that in most cases parents can take photos of sufficient quality to enable accurate teledermatology diagnosis for pediatric skin disorders," said Patrick McMahon, pediatric dermatologist and lead author of the study. This is important to ensure care through pediatric dermatology. McMahon said fewer than 300 certified doctors are currently available to 75 million children in the United States. "Our results suggest that telemedicine could improve access for families of patients who have geographic, schedule, or financial constraints, and reduce waiting times," said McMahon. The study, which was published in the specialist magazine JAMA Dermatology, comes to the conclusion that smartphone photos taken by parents of their children's skin can be used as a method for pediatric dermatological care.

Discussion about telediagnosis also in Germany

Remote diagnosis is currently under discussion in Germany as well, but has so far been prohibited in Germany. Only follow-up treatments of known patients can be carried out via video consultation and only a few doctors already offer a video consultation. According to the Medical Association, the main reason for the low prevalence lies with the health insurance companies, which pay too little for this service. The monthly cost for software that is suitable for video consultations amounts to 30 to 70 euros per month. The doctor can only claim 800 euros per year for this form of consultation, and only if it is a comparatively cheaper follow-up treatment. A group of experts from the Medical Association is working to allow future diagnoses to be made via video chat, at least in exceptional cases. The next German Medical Day, which will take place in Erfurt in May 2018, is expected to be the official decision. The first pilot projects have already taken place in North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin. (fp)

Author and source information

Video: Interview with Dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee (May 2022).


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