Teledermatology Platform May Allow High-Quality Acne Evaluation

phone camera in handsBy Marilynn Larkin


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patient-taken iPhone photos transmitted and stored in the Network Oriented Research Assistant (NORA) teledermatology program may be as useful for acne evaluations as in-person consultations, a pilot study suggests.

“In-person and telemedicine acne lesion count and Investigator’s Global Assessment (IGA) scoring were strongly correlated,” Dr. Vishal Patel of Science 37 in Los Angeles told Reuters Health.

“This study paves the way for performing more and more high-quality science and clinical trials using digital devices and telemedicine,” he said by email.

At a single dermatology practice, Dr. Patel and colleagues enrolled 69 patients with acne (mean age 22.7, 54% male) capable of using the company’s NORA platform on an iPhone 6 to take self-photographs.

Nine participants were used to prototype the photography module and workflow, while 60 underwent an in-person acne evaluation followed by a digital evaluation by the same dermatologist at least one week later. Acne assessment measures included total lesion count and inflammatory, noninflammatory, and cystic - and IGA scoring for acne severity.

Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) of in-person and photograph-based acne evaluations indicated “strong agreement,” the authors reported online December 20 in JAMA Dermatology.

ICCs were 0.81 for total lesion count, 0.75 for IGA, 0.72 for inflammatory lesion count, 0.72 for noninflammatory lesion count, and 0.82 for cyst count.

Dr. Patel said his team is currently testing the platform for use in other conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo and rosacea.

Dermatologist Dr. Suzanne Friedler, a clinical instructor at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, commented, “Not all information can be gleaned from a video or photograph.”

“When I examine acne, I lightly touch the skin to feel for cysts that are below the surface of the skin and invisible to the naked eye,” she told Reuters Health by email.

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