There is a great need for medical professionals to adopt new, advanced technologies to combat the shortage of experts (such as dermatologists), incompatible documentation, analytics, and patient management systems, and continued use of physical paperwork and filing systems. Due to these rising concerns, four primary tools are rising in popularity to help benefit the practice of medical experts:Teledermatology
Teledermatology has experienced increased usage due to its ability to offer affordable, streamlined, and accessible care to patients anytime, anywhere.¹ The two primary areas that this technology is aiming to help medical professionals and their patients alike are time management and efficiency.
Research shows places like Canada are experiencing a shortage of dermatologists, with only 600-700 treating more than 30 million people, and wait times of over four months.² ³ In contrast, teledermatology reports can take less than a week, allowing doctors to provide care to a greater number of patients, decrease patient wait times, increase accessibility and enable streamlined care.4Content Based Image Retrieval
Content based image retrieval is the use of advanced artificial intelligence software that allows a computer to identify an image by its visual features rather than typing in search terms. This has extremely valuable applications in dermatology, as it can be used to retrieve previously diagnosed images that are visually similar to your patients case for decision support purposes.
Additionally, medical professionals can use smart features like Visual Search as an educational resource. Experts can utilize the database of pathology-labelled images obtained from dermatologists around the world to help train or teach medical students, researchers or non-expert physicians. It is easy to imagine the wide applications that emerge, from areas of education, to decision support, and beyond.
Total Body Photography
Total body photography (also known as full-body imaging) holds the potential to provide increased support for dermatologists in the early detection of skin cancers. This technology allows medical professionals to reference the sequential images for any new or changing spots on high-risk patients to simplify the comparison process.
Although a valuable tool, it is important to recognize that capturing images is only half of the process; these images still need to be properly documented and analyzed to optimize services. Platforms like DermEngine’s full-body imaging software are designed to offer MoleMatch and MoleMap to enhance these processes.
MoleMatch identifies lesions in an image and uses advanced algorithms to match the correlating spots between consecutive images while allowing you to flicker between images to detect any new or changing lesions. Then, MoleMap also allows you to map these lesions to the patient's personal 3D bodymap.
In recent years, clinic data analytics has become a growing area of popularity for business intelligence, and is projected to skyrocket to $24.55 billion by 2021.5 Industry trends suggest that through utilizing big data, the top opportunities for growth include cloud-based analytics, precision medicine and patient registries.6 Clinical analytics holds the potential to help a practice determine the best treatment for patients based on their personal health data. This expands into improved prevention, diagnosis, and follow up care for patients’ conditions.
Certain dermatology systems like DermEngine have gone a step further by having the ability to integrate with clinics’ current EMR/PMS software (thus not disrupting previous patient data systems). Additionally, they are able to provide valuable data about the number of patients, images and types of diagnoses per individual or group of doctors.
The world of healthcare is advancing quickly; research shows that $3.5 billion has been invested in digital health in 2017 alone. The areas of teledermatology, artificial intelligence, total body photography, and clinical analytics are at the forefront of this expansion. Although impossible to ascertain what the future holds, it is safe to say these digital health areas will revolutionize the affordability and efficacy of care provided by medical professionals.
-The MetaOptima Team