-The MetaOptima Team
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Needless to say, technology is one of the driving forces behind the many changes we experience. The healthcare field is not exempt from technology’s influence to the benefit of many disciplines, including dermatology. As a consequence, the development of highly-connected and accessible hardware and software solutions in dermatology practices is reflected on the 87% use of mobile devices in clinical settings.1 This article will review three major areas where technological advancements have taken dermatology one step further to offer better services for patients and doctors alike.
1. The advent of mobile dermoscopes
Dermoscopes are an invaluable piece of equipment in the dermatology office. Studies show that there is a clear advantage in the power of improved diagnoses based on magnified dermoscopic images, compared to naked-eye observation.2 Furthermore, the development of portable dermoscopes able to be used in combination with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has turned them into a valuable tool that is increasingly popular among dermatologists.3
Coupling these devices with phones and tablets gives the necessary portability that allows for consultations outside a clinical setting. Additionally, mobile dermoscopes such as MoleScope II are equipped with other technical aspects like polarized lighting, interchangeable lenses, rechargeable battery and ~60x magnification power. The presence of all these features in a compact and affordable device makes mobile dermoscopes a preferred choice for high-quality dermoscopic imaging, helping with improved diagnostic procedures for enhanced patient experience.
2. Cloud-based dermatology EMR systems
The advancement of dermoscopes has come at the same time that new paradigms have been introduced in the collection and management of patient data software. In fact, telecommunication technologies have caused profound changes to the way electronic medical record (EMR) systems operate. Modern cloud-based dermatology software are rooted in the SaaS model, where connection and accessibility to remote servers represents the power to analyze and share medical histories, ready and securely from virtually anywhere.
Similarly, cloud-based dermatology EMR systems are revolutionizing the industry as they work seamlessly to connect patients and doctors through online services such as store-and-forward teledermatology. The power of mobile dermoscopy meets the need for patients to have their cases reviewed by professionals whom they have never met in person. The strength behind the working synergy of these systems is rendering dermatology practices at better availability and affordability levels, particularly for underserved regions.
3. The power of AI to assist in skin cancer early detection
Artificial intelligence (AI) is probably one of the fastest developing areas in technology in the last decade. The impact of AI in healthcare is already being seen in several disciplines.4 Within the dermatology field, AI algorithms have been shown to have similar accuracy to predict suspicious skin lesions as trained dermatologists.5 Currently the subject of an intense debate regarding the potential replacement of human professionals by machines, it is important to focus on the complementing nature exhibited by AI technology. Machines are highly trainable to perform detailed and repetitive tasks with a degree of accuracy that can’t be matched by human standards, making them the ideal candidates for automating such jobs. Doctors instead can concentrate on the human side of their relationship with patients to provide the necessary support.
Building on these concepts, intelligent dermatology EMR systems equipped with AI-powered tools can be a great help for assisting in clinical diagnoses, complementing the expertise of medical doctors who will ultimately decide on the final report. Software such as DermEngine integrate image comparing functionalities like the Visual Search tool, where a target dermoscopic image is compared against thousands of pre-labelled pathologically identified lesions through the action of an intelligent algorithm. Although only serving as a support tool for final diagnostic purposes, it proves a powerful complementing feature.
Technology is changing the way we perceive the world around us. It has penetrated every level of human activity and is leading paradigm shifts in a variety of systems and processes. Dermatology has seen a profound evolution of technology input to hardware and software products utilized in daily practice. However, as more barriers are broken and more goals achieved, technology will keep leading the pace of growth and development. Services will be better equipped and managed making it possible to focus on the single purpose behind it all: working for the wellbeing of patients.
-The MetaOptima Team