Patient-facing app for skin self-monitoring and image-sharing with clinicians

There is an increasing need for more remote consultations. This app and web-viewing platform allows patients to build a library of photos and share access with clinicians to conduct teledermatology clinics. Patient-led teledermatology can use good quality images to save visits to primary care by allowing direct remote communication between the patient and the dermatology clinic.

Situation

Lack of appropriate technology that enables patients and clinicians to securely share and store images of skin problems.

Aspiration

To develop a product that helps patients self-monitor their skin.

Solution and impact

Newcastle University computing science department collaborated with Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust to develop the MySkinSelfie app to help patients self-monitor their skin lesions. All images are encrypted and stored on Microsoft Azure UK servers. Patients can share their information with clinicians in Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust. This enables their skin problems, including acne, psoriasis, pre-clinic triage and skin cancer assessment, to be carried out remotely. This aims to directly list cases for excision and sun damage treatment follow-up.

The system provides a private, secure location for patients to store images which can be.  dated and annotated. The app can be used to monitor moles, scars and wounds such as leg ulcers, and for precise visual documentation of response to treatment over time.

Patients can also share access to their images  with a clinician. All photos are stored securely in the cloud. Patients can choose to share access by entering a clinic’s details and providing consent within the  app. Clinicians can then view the images online. The app has been used in Newcastle for remote assessment of psoriasis, acne, alopecia areata, and for research studies.

Functionality

All data is encrypted on a user’s phone, as well as during transfer and storage in the cloud (Microsoft Azure cloud). Patients can upload as many skin images as they need to in date-labelled folders that can also be annotated. When patients want to share access to their images, they are taken through a consent page within the app.

The clinic or doctor then receives a notification that enables them to view and assess the images online, make comments and download them to a hospital's electronic patient record (EPR), if needed. There is no limit to the number of images that can be shared.

Patients remain in control of their images. Users not familiar with digital technology can create an account on a family member’s phone, if needed, reducing digital exclusion. The ability to share access to images allows the app to be used for patient-led teledermatology consultations.

Capabilities

  • Patient self-monitoring of skin, nail or hair conditions
  • Encryption of images on the user’s smartphone, when stored in the cloud and during transfer
  • Patients can share access to their images with clinicians to allow teledermatology consultations

Scope

The app is designed for patients to use at home to record images and then share with clinicians.

Key figures/quotes 

Remote clinics using MySkinSelfie images can reduce patient journeys and the need for clinic space.

Find out more

Find out more on the My Skin Selfie website

Watch this video which shows how the app works

Watch this video for user instructions

Key contact

Dr Philip Hampton (lead clinician)

Philip.hampton@nhs.net

Martin Crosby (commercial unit, Newcastle Hospitals)

m.crosby@nhs.net