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Snap a Selfie for Digital Dermatology

FAYETTEVILLE, AR-- Digital dermatology, a form of telemedicine, takes on new form with the snap of a selfie.
FAYETTEVILLE, AR-- Digital dermatology, a form of telemedicine, takes on new form with the snap of a selfie. One clinic in Fayetteville is using an app to help diagnose local patients.

Ozark Dermatology patient, Jim Lewis said, "I had had issues before. It was Basal Cell Carcinoma, which is a type of cancer."

When Jim Lewis found an abnormal-looking, dark patch of his skin on his chest, he knew he needed to see a doctor.

Lewis said, "It could get serious if you don't treat it right away."

However, Jim Lewis said he didn't have time to sit in a waiting room. Dr. Chris Schach knows there are others who feel the same.

Dr. Schach said, "Studies have shown that patients across the country have to wait more than 45 days to see a dermatologist. The insurance-covered population is getting larger, but there are no more dermatologists coming out of training so we have to figure out a way to practice smarter and more efficient medicine."

Now, there's an app for that. Ozark Dermatology in Fayetteville is one of the first clinics in the state to use the new technology.

"We are able to diagnose most skin diseases with a picture alone so with about 80-90% of skin diseases, all we need is a photo," Dr. Schach said.

First, you install the free "OzarkDerm" app on your smartphone, then you take some pictures of your problem, and send them to a secure portal for the doctor to review.

Lewis said, "Within an hour I got a call from Dr. Schach's office and he said 'Jim I've seen the growth that you are concerned about and I really think you need to come into the office for a regular visit."

The quick response from the doctor made all the difference. Lewis said, "It could have spread. The type that I have starts off small."

Dr. Schach said, "From the picture alone we could tell that this was most likely a Basal Cell Carcinoma."

With the power of a photo from a cell phone, Dr. Schach believes more patients will avoid the wait by snapping a selfie and pushing send.

Dr. Schach said, "Now it is so good through our high-resolution smartphones that it's practical for people to see the doctor on their schedule. It's going to become more and more prevalent over time. People will be consulting many physicians I think through smartphones and virtual means."

Folks using the "OzarkDerm" app can send a picture for free to their doctor. Once the patient comes in for an appointment, there will be a fee. However, if the doctor can't help through a virtual consult, there is no charge.


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