News Feature | January 13, 2015

$2.85 Million Raised For Telemedicine 'Selfies'

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Medical Selfie

Images can replace visits to dermatologists while facilitating greater access and improved patient care.

A study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology reveals there was a 90 percent agreement between office evaluations of skin conditions and evaluations via mobile phones, Health IT Outcomes reported. This supports the notion “Teledermatology is reliable for the triage of inpatient dermatology consultations and has the potential to improve efficiency.”

Now, one telemedicine company is hoping to cash in on that trend. According to a Form D filing with the SEC, PocketDerm – a company founded by dermatologists aiming to reduce appointment wait times and facilitate physician visits – has raised more than $2.85 million. The fundraising effort comes after an expansion of its e-prescription service to add anti-aging treatments in September.

“If the patient takes a few high quality photos, if they give us a really good sense of their medical history, we select a prescription regiment for him,” PocketDerm founder Dr. David Lortscher told NBC San Diego.

The service costs users $30 per month for the medicine and follow-up analysis under PocketDerm. Currently, Lortscher said physicians may not legally offer acne medicine without a face-to-face consultation in 13 states, but he also said laws are beginning to change in response to developments in telemedicine.

In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, Lortscher and co-founder Dr. Nancy Satur discussed PocketDerm. Lortscher explained the company is designed to facilitate paperwork and give physicians more time to interact with patients, planning to integrate dictation software to meet that goal.

The expansion of companies like PocketDerm can feel a real gap in the healthcare system. “There is a real dermatology workforce shortage, especially in rural areas,” Dr. Lindy P. Fox told Reuters Health in an email. “Teledermatology is a viable way to deliver care to those who do not have direct access to dermatologists as it allows dermatologic care to be delivered in a timely manner to patients who might have long wait times to see a dermatologist or have to travel long distances to see a dermatologist.”