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Dermatologists Can Diagnose Selfies Sent From Your Smartphone

Tara Moore— Getty Images

Examining photos of skin conditions or moles often led to same conclusions as in-person consultations

The future of dermatology may be as simple as sending your doctor a selfie of your curious-looking mole.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology takes a look at the field of teledermatology, which involves sending dermatologists photos of suspicious spots and getting a remote diagnosis. According to the findings, this actually works pretty well.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at 50 individual who were in the hospital and had a skin problem that needed a doctor’s assessment. All of the participants had an in-person consultation with a doctor, and the researchers also sent photos of their skin conditions to two independent dermatologists to diagnose for comparison.

They discovered that when in-person doctors recommended a biopsy, the remote doctors who were going off of photos agreed 95% of the time. When an in-person doctor recommended same-day additional tests, the external dermatologists agreed 90% of the time.

The ability to use your smartphone to get skin disorder diagnoses could make dermatology more efficient, and more accessible for people in rural communities who struggle to reach medical experts. Still, researchers need to confirm that teledermatology is as accurate as an in-person appointment, and that serious medical issues would not be overlooked.

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