Trying to get an appointment as a new patient with a dermatologist can often mean waiting nearly a year to be seen. South Hills dermatologist Mark Seraly wants to change that.
A highly-respected practitioner in McMurray for nearly 21 years, Seraly specializes in skin cancers, infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders, in addition to less acute conditions. It concerns him that patients with life-threatening skin conditions aren't being seen in a more timely manner.
Seraly and Larry Eakin are the co-founders of a company created last year called Iagnosis, which is developing a series of telemedicine solutions for dermatology practices. Their first offering, Dermatologistoncall
, is being used in Seraly's office to screen and treat patients who are worried about the wait.
"It's a whole new way of thinking of healthcare delivery for this specialty," says Eakin.
Dermatology lends itself to telemedicine because people generally know when they have a problem with their skin, explains Seraly. "Instead of waiting months, this platform allows them to go online anywhere, anytime, and within 24-hours they will have a prescription in their inbox. If they need to be seen, they are brought in asap.
"In the last 10 weeks, I've diagnosed four melanomas online," he adds. "The patients were brought in immediately and have already had surgery."
Telemedicine is nothing new. Many doctors use it for provider consults. Seraly has been refining Dermatologistoncall for the last five years, improving it with the help of online surveys to his patients. Iagnosis hopes to offer the program to other local doctors first, then roll it out to a wider audience, says Eakin.
Patients can log in during their time off, in the comfort of their own home. Pictures are uploaded. Iagnosis is developing a mobile app as well.
The downside is the doctor fees are not covered by most insurances, but Seraly hopes that will change in the future. For now, most patients are willing to pay the $45 consult for an immediate online diagnosis, which isn't far from most copays. Seraly spends 30% of his day now working on online cases.
"It's an exciting opportunity," says Seraly. "It's really transforming how I'm delivering skincare in my office. It think it will change healthcare going forward."
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Larry Eakin, Mark Seraly, Dermatologistoncall