Kaiser's Teledermatology Program Proves A Doctor and Patient Favorite
Written by Alyssa Clark
Kaiser Permanente proudly presents the implementation of their new “teledermatology” program: a program that will drastically reduce the number of unnecessary doctor office visits/appointment scheduling and paying ridiculous amounts of high co-pays. Utilizing Kaiser’s well-established EMR system (electronic medical record), Kaiser can reduce things like patient wait time, number of office visits, expensive co-pays while increasing patient satisfaction and improve overall patient well-being.
In a quarter of the time of a standard dermatologist office visit, a photo can be taken of a patient’s serious facial lesion or rash and uploaded to Kaiser’s EMR system. The photo can then be analyzed by the respective physician, and a diagnosis can be administered to the patient as quickly as 15-30 minutes after the photo has been taken. The patient also has the option to wait for the diagnosis in the office, or receive a phone call or email when the information becomes available, thus reducing in office time even further.
Not only can dermatology office visit appointments be lengthy and sometimes unnecessary, but they are extremely hard to come by. The waiting list to get an appointment at some clinics can stretch back as far as 5 months, but with the implementation of teledermatology, it is expected that this number will continue to drop.
According to Kaiser’s research, there is an apparent shortage of dermatologists nationwide. Since the pilot of this program launched in 2007 in Fairfield, Kaiser has seen this program help millions of patients across California; most recently branching into areas of Fresno, Santa Rosa and other Kaiser facilities across California.
By using this innovative and efficient electronic system, patients can be reassured that benign lesions and rashes are diagnosed more quickly; this alleviates any additional stress to the patient, and decreases the number of unnecessary appointments from now being able to diagnose and treat faster and more easily. With specialists being in high demand, patients can now rest assured that they won’t be neglected due to high appointment wait times, or extraordinarily long waiting lists.
The camera that will be used to take the photos used by specialists to diagnose their patients contains a specialized lens (known as a dermascope), and it can take pictures and analyze skin at a microscopic level. From a picture from a dermascope, a specialist is able to ascertain whether a lesion is benign or malignant.
A Kaiser doctor works a different day of the week, doing nothing but analyzing and diagnosing these patient high-resolution images. On average 60-80 cases are reviewed and diagnosed daily, breaking the traditional numbers of patients coming for in-person visits. If a growth is determined to be malignant, the primary care doctor is notified and an appointment is automatically made with the specialist.
The entire program is 100 percent voluntary— only taking pictures of patients who wish to use the expedited teledermatology program, but the choice is entirely up to them. Doctors have come out in full support of the EMR revolution, saying that it not only makes their job more efficient, but they feel as if they are having a greater impact on their patients, which is every doctor’s greatest hope.
About the Author
Alyssa Clark is the Editor of Healthcare Global
NeuTigers: edge AI in healthcare
What is edge AI?
Edge AI is essentially a combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Algorithms are processed locally - directly on a mobile device or server - rather than in the cloud. This reduces cost, computing power and energy requirements. There are also claims that edge AI is so fast it is possible to reach near real-time analytics.
Edge AI devices include smart speakers, smart phones, laptops, robots, self-driven cars, drones, and surveillance cameras that use video analytics.
Who is NeuTigers?
NeuTigers is a spin-off company from Princeton University, formed in 2018 to apply edge AI and machine learning to solve challenges in healthcare, energy, productivity, and security.
With offices in Princeton, NJ, the company is based at one of the top AI accelerator programs of FutureLabs in New York, and has also established a subsidiary in Nice, France.
How is NeuTigers applying edge AI to healthcare?
The NeuTigers AI Technology Stack uses deep neural networks that mimic how the human brain perceives and interprets the world. The company has developed the StarDeepTM Smart Health Platform for health monitoring and biomedical imaging, to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosing diseases.
NeuTigers say the platform has the potential to monitor and screen for thousands of conditions, when used in combination with medical devices and smart sensors already deployed in healthcare settings.
Are there any real world examples?
In January NeuTigers launched CovidDeep, a tool that predicts COVID-19 with more than 90% accuracy, using physiological data from a wristband along with blood pressure and blood oxygen readings. It then analyses the data and gives a prediction within two minutes.
This week NeuTigers announced a new study to detect the early signs of complications with sickle cell anaemia. Conducted at a hospital in Paris, the research will begin by looking at changes to skin response, heart beat, sleep and temperature to predict an acute episode of sickle cell anaemia, and how this impacts on the patients’ disease conditions and quality of life.
The second phase of the project is to expand with prospective studies across different sites in EU, Africa and the US to explore the models' accuracy and clinical effectiveness.
Adel Laoui, CEO and founder of NeuTigers, says: “The best way to deal with a crisis is to avoid it happening in the first place. We are now entering a new era where medical early warning systems have become a reality.
“We are excited at the possibility of deploying a technology that can save lives of patients dealing with sickle cell anaemia. The potential of the StarDeep platform to dramatically improve patient outcomes while slashing some of the highest costs of healthcare makes it one of the most exciting developments in preventative personal medicine.”