Beyond the skin deep: digital innovation is shaping the future of dermatology


The integration of advanced digital technologies opens up new opportunities to better inform people about their dermatological health and to face the shortage of dermatologists.

One of the main challenges in the health field is the lack of qualified health professionals. According to the World Health Organization, there will be a shortage of nearly 13 million healthcare workers by 2035. While about two billion people worldwide suffer from skin problems, there is already a shortage. world of specialists. In the UK, for example, a dermatologist has to look after more than 100,000 people. This gap between demand and supply is precisely where technology can help.

The technology has the potential to ease the growing pressure on dermatology professionals by providing tools for more accurate disease diagnosis and treatment selection, as well as helping patients better manage their condition. We are on the threshold of an era where intelligent algorithms diagnose skin cancer and 3D printers generate synthetic skin to address fabric shortages.

Advancing AI

From breast cancer screening to tuberculosis screening, artificial intelligence (AI) has vast potential and is a game-changer in helping physicians care for patients and treat disease. Dermatology has taken the pole position for the implementation of AI in the medical field due to its large database of clinical, dermatoscopic and dermatopathological images. A growing number of AI studies are now focusing on skin disorders, such as skin cancer, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and onychomycosis, while computer algorithms are increasingly helping dermatologists diagnose diseases, especially in conditions such as malignant melanoma.

The integration of cutting-edge AI with other digital technologies, such as cameras and smartphone apps, also opens up new opportunities to better educate people about their skin health.

Skin Analytics Teledermatology (Credit: Skin Analytics)
Skin Analytics Teledermatology (Credit: Skin Analytics)

Founded in 2012, Skin analysis is a UK-based, research-driven company committed to helping more people survive skin cancer. Skin Analytics’ machine learning algorithm, Deep Ensemble for the Recognition of Malignancy (DERM), recognizes the most common malignant, premalignant and benign skin lesions, including melanoma, the most dangerous of common skin cancers. The company is currently in talks with a number of new healthcare partners across the UK looking to focus exclusively on its AI-based teledermatology service. Skin Analytics Medical Director Dr Dan Mullarkey explained:

“Our goal is to bring AI into clinical pathways to accelerate cancer diagnosis and support the limited capacity for dermatology within healthcare. DERM was built from the ground up specifically to address the challenges of skin cancer and features many innovations. An example would be our approach to training data, where we sacrifice quantity for quality by focusing on dermoscopic images with histopathologically confirmed results.

Application-based analysis

Over the past two years, an increasing number of skin cancer detection applications, such as Miiskin, UMSkinCheck, MoleScope and SkinVision– have emerged, allowing users to analyze their skin with only their smartphone and AI algorithms. Some apps send photos to a dermatologist, some provide instant feedback, and some offer helpful reminders about skin self-checking and scheduling medical appointments.

Erik de Heus, CEO of SkinVision, said:

“Our app uses deep learning to analyze skin photos. User-generated photos are first processed through a convolutional neural network (CNN). SkinVision’s algorithm then provides a risk assessment to label the level of risk for a specific skin spot. Based on this assessment, the app provides a recommendation on the next steps to be taken. This is made possible by training CNN on millions of images in our database.

SkinVision's detection app allows users to scan their skin with just their smartphone and AI algorithms.  (Credit SkinVision)
SkinVision’s detection app allows users to scan their skin with just their smartphone and AI algorithms. (Credit SkinVision)

Limited physical access to health care providers during Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telemedecine. Erik de Heus added:

“The success of AI in dermatology will depend on the benefits it provides to the vast majority of the general population and also to physicians. Technology is not meant to support rather than replace healthcare professionals. “

Amazing lasers

Today, lasers have wide applications in dermatology and are valuable treatment modalities for various skin conditions. We are already seeing a huge leap in laser technology, with devices that go beyond cosmetics in the treatment of cancer and laser-assisted drug delivery. With many cosmetic procedures, skin cancers, and other skin problems already treated with laser therapy, in the near future many of these treatments could be performed. by more Precise “robotic surgeons”.

US based company Precise is the pioneer of a new laser acne treatment. While there are other laser and light options for acne treatment, the Accure laser is the first light-based platform to selectively target and injure the sebaceous glands, the primary source of production. of sebum and the key to a lasting solution for acne. Current clinical data indicate an over 80% reduction in inflammatory acne lesions three months after four treatments and an 80-90% lesion reduction rate in these same patients after one year.

Accure is the pioneer of a new laser acne treatment.  (Credit: precise)
Accure is the pioneer of a new laser acne treatment. (Credit: precise)

Accure Co-Founder and CEO Christopher Carlton explained:

“Our next-generation laser platform is focused on thermal disruption of the sebaceous gland, a driver of acne. It uses a combination of several key new innovations, such as a new wavelength (1726nm) and a highly innovative tissue temperature monitoring platform that optimizes patient safety, energy delivery and thermal impact using a new dosimetry algorithm.

The CellFX System the United States Pulse biosciences uses a brand new energy modality called Nano-Pulse Stimulation (NPS). This uses ultra-fast, high-amplitude pulses of electrical energy to cleanse cellular structures, while sparing the non-cellular, collagen-rich dermal foundation. Hubertus Zumkley, Senior Director of International Sales at Pulse Biosciences, said:

“The CellFX system with CellFX CloudConnect is a multi-application platform that has a direct impact on cellular structures. This leads to the clearance of benign cell lesions with a healing profile and a more favorable aesthetic result than the thermal modalities currently used in dermatology. We believe that NPS has tremendous potential, with leaders in dermatology in the US, EU and Canada recently participating in a controlled launch to learn, experience and optimize the unique features and benefits of the CellFX system. .

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