Dermatologists using 'selfies' to treat skin issues

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by KING 5 HealthLink

KING5.com

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 8 at 7:41 PM

The word selfie wasn’t even in the dictionary until 2013, but now it’s even catching on in the medical field.  One dermatologist has just launched a nationwide service where teens can be diagnosed and treated by taking a selfie.

Most teens avoid taking selfies when they have acne. That’s about to change.

“If a patient takes a few high quality photos, if they give us a really good sense of their medical history, and if the doctor is able to evaluate it, it actually works very well,” said dermatologist Dr. David Lortscher.

Dr. Lortscher is the brains behind PocketDerm, where patients with acne fill out an online questionnaire and send in selfies from their smart phone.

“We’ll see his consult and we’ll evaluate it.  We’ll look at his photos and if everything is right, we select a prescription regiment for him,” said Dr. Lortscher.

PocketDerm is aimed at teens and young adults from around the country - the perfect age for adopting mobile health care.

“They take a half day off work.  If they’re 15 years old, they take a half day off school and their mom takes a half day off work.  So it’s really those people we made PocketDerm for,” said Dr. Lortscher.
But is this even legal?

“So you can absolutely do that. There’s still about 13 states where the laws say that you can do it online, but you need to have met them first,” said Dr. Lortscher.

Besides the diagnosis, PocketDerm offers custom made monthly prescriptions and follow up diagnosis through more self-portraits, all for $30 a month.  But do pocket pictures work for all skin issues?

“If you have mild acne, moderate acne, this is right for you.  If you have really severe acne, chances are we’ll take a look. We’ll think about it, but we will likely say, I think you’re better served by seeing a local dermatologist,” said Dr. Lorscher.

Services like PocketDerm are just the beginning.  And yes, the web site says their doctors are licensed to treat patients in Washington state.

 
 

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