Telecommuting for Dermatologists?

It seems everyone is working from home these days. Why not dermatologists?

A group of Australian researchers are working on technology that could revolutionize annual skin cancer screenings through “teledermatology”.

Skin cancer is a big problem in Australia. Australians are being diagnosed as a rate 12 times higher than the global average.

This national crisis is driving the Soyer Group at the University of Queensland to improve early detection strategies. Through the use of 3D total body imaging, the team hopes to provide a simple screening process to catch cases of melanoma as early as possible.

Similar in appearance to a full-body airport scanner, the 3D imaging machine are comprised of 92 cameras all firing at the same exact time. Those 92 images are then rendered into a digital avatar of the patient’s skin.

That avatar is then sent to a dermatologist for review and comparison to previous body scans. Follow-up appointments with the patients are then conducted online as needed. Not only does this help with early detection, it also helps reach people who are not located near a dermatologist.

Currently, the University of Queensland is conducting a study through their newly established ACRF Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis. The study includes 15 3D imaging machines scattered across Australia. Each machine will be able to perform 3,000 examinations each year, resulting in around 100,000 body scans over the next 3 years.

If the study goes well, taking a 3D body image could become part of your annual physical. With a 99% five-year survival rate when detected early, this sort of innovation is sure to dramatically drop melanoma deaths worldwide.