When a suspicious spot appears on your skin, it's generally advised to have it checked out as soon as possibly by a qualified medical profession, usually a dermatologist.
But what if you can’t get an appointment anytime soon? In my case, a suspicious red spot on my forearm wasn’t going away after three months and the spot—and my anxiety—was growing.
On top of that, my regular dermatologist couldn’t see me until February of 2013.
When it comes to skin cancer, the waiting game is a dangerous one to play. South Hills dermatologist Mark Seraly, with 21 years in practice as a skin care specialist, believes diagnosing such cases as soon as possible online addresses this problem.
So many dermatology practices are saturated with patients, making it increasingly difficult for the established patient to get in when an issue arises that requires an immediate diagnosis, he says. New patients are generally have no recourse.
“It’s not meant to replace good quality office care, but to improve service," Seraly says. "Telemedicine is the future of dermatology.”
Seraly and partner Larry Eakin officially launched their healthcare company Iagnosis last month, funded completely through angel investors. Their first online service, Dermatologistoncall
, is a screening platform that gives new or existing patients a medical diagnosis within 24 hours and a plan for care, if needed, within three days.
Iagnosis has seven dermatologists onboard, using the system. In addition, Highmark has joined the company to build awareness of the program.
I put the service to the test. The process was fairly straightforward, involving an hour of filling out online paperwork and taking a few photographs of my forearm.
Within a few hours, I received a text message and an email informing me that my case was under review. The next day, I received another email. I had been diagnosed with “actinic keratosis, a precancerous spot caused by years of exposure to the sun.” Dr. Seraly’s office called and I made an appointment for the following week when the good doctor removed the sunspot from my arm.
I’m happy to report that my margins were clear and all is well.
While the online diagnosis ($69) is currently not covered by most insurances, the peace of mind that comes with receiving immediate treatment (which is covered by insurance) was well worth it to me.
Seraly and Eakin hope to expand the service to dermatology offices in Southwestern Pennsylvania then nationwide. For doctors, the online review process takes a fraction of the time it would take a doctor to review a case in the office, making it a more efficient process for undiagnosed skin concerns.
Iagnosis plans to expand in the coming year and hire marketing and sales positions.
Source: Mark Seraly, Larry Eakin, Iagnosis