Smartphone technology is making major headway into the field of medical science with new apps coming into development that can potentially diagnose signs of early melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer that is diagnosed in about 40,000 Americans each year. While far from being able to replace a doctor visit, this technology could potentially lead to much greater things.
There are around 250 apps that are designed to help people learn more about melanoma. Now, some apps are able to scan for irregularities in your skin if you take a picture of a particularly troublesome spot. Even more, people can now attach a dermatoscope to their device. Apps like SkinVision have a success rate of around 73%, which, though not perfect, does look promising.
Medical apps have a lot of things to overcome before they can go live. They must receive approval by the FDA and those relating to cancer must have 100% sensitivity. There must also be consideration as to how the apps relate to doctors. Allan C. Halpern, MD, chief of the dermatology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering and a HemOnc Today Editorial Board member has said, “One of the biggest determinants of whether smartphones can find their way into the critical chain of delivery of care is going to do with us. Does the profession embrace this an opportunity to bring care closer to patients, or is it considered a threat?”
Nevertheless, apps designed to detect melanoma still have a long ways to go. Apps like MelApp and Mole Detective had to retract claims that their program could detect melanoma, as ruled by the United States Federal Trade Commission. It’s easy to say, then, that apps like these still have a A lot of kinks to work out before they can reach the level of a doctor’s hard work.