Skin-checking app sees future in clinicians, not automation


Miiskin’s skin mapping tool highlights moles and marks, making it easier to detect new ones. Photo credit: Miiskin

While a swath of skin startups tout AI tools to help people identify bumps, moles and rashes, Danish startup Miiskin is building its business around dermatologists.

The company has designed an app to help users track spots and moles over time, but does not provide an automated diagnosis. Instead, it provides regular reminders for users to check their skin and lets them compare photos over time. It also has a mapping feature to highlight moles or marks, and a tool to let people take wide-area photos, for an added cost.

The goal, founder and CEO Jon Friis said, was to make checking up on skin more of an everyday routine.

“There are many technologies out there that claim to be diagnostic in a way. … We do not have these clinical claims because we believe the right journey is to engage and interact with the patient, but make the relationship stronger between the patient and the doctor,” Friis said in an interview. “Clinicians, they will assess and diagnose. We bring the information to the clinician.”

Now, the startup is betting that clinicians will want to bring this service to their patents.

Miiskin is offering a tool that would let clinics offer their patients free access to the app, starting at $100 per month. Patients can directly share images of moles or spots and can schedule follow-up appointments directly through the app. Currently, about 160 clinics and hospitals hand out Miiskin’s leaflets to their patients.

Friis said the tool can be useful in providing information on how a mole has developed over time, or for providing high-quality images during a video consultation. Many of Miiskin’s users have a previous diagnosis of skin cancer and need to monitor their skin, or know they have an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

“Everyone’s been talking about digital health for years,” Friis said. “Going into the future, we need to have better data. In the near future, we can amplify virtual consultations and in-person consultations with high-quality images.”

Other apps are also tapping their image libraries to provide patients with quick answers. For example, VisualDX, which was originally designed as a provider-facing tool to help clinicians diagnose skin conditions, released a consumer-facing app two years ago. Its symptom checker, called Aysa, helps patients identify a list of possible matches.

But it’s still a space where startups have to tread carefully without regulatory clearance. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission fined two melanoma detection apps, saying they could not make claims about detecting melanoma or increasing a user’s chance of detecting it unless the claim is backed by scientific evidence.

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