The online wave of the future?
Teledermatology may sound like something Dr. Crusher would use on the USS Enterprise, but it’s real tech, not Trek. Here’s how it works: A patient takes a photo of the rash, lesions, acne or other symptom, then goes to a dermatologist’s website, fills out a questionnaire, and uploads the pictures through a secure portal. Within 24 hours, the patient receives a written diagnosis and a suggested treatment plan.
How accurate is the diagnosis? In a study conducted last year at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and published in the American Journal of Medicine, 90-95 percent of diagnoses made in person matched those given via teledermatology.
Haverford’s Ringpfeil Advanced Dermatology launched its teledermatology service in January, and patients can’t get enough of it. “They don’t need to wait weeks to be seen by a dermatologist,” says Dr. Franziska Ringpfeil. “They don’t need to miss school or work, and they don’t need to drive to the office.”
Many underdeveloped countries don’t have the technology for safe, accurate blood tests. What’s needed is a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, a pricey piece of equipment that many small clinics can’t afford. Enter Biomeme, which allows users to test blood for DNA, STDs and other pathogens. The system includes test kits for preparing samples and a docking station through which to read them.
Developed in Philadelphia with start-up support from DreamIt Ventures, Biomeme is currently in pilot programs at Drexel Medicine and Penn Medicine. It’s also being field-tested in Panama through the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies. “Gorgas is like the CDC of Pan-America,” says cocreator Max Perelman, “and Biomeme could help its staff track the outbreak of epidemics by immediately reporting data to a centralized location.”
Perelman envisions Biomeme for eventual home use. Anyone could swab their saliva or other bodily fluid, feed it into Biomeme, and get diagnoses of flu, stomach bugs, even vitamin deficiencies. The goal, of course, is to live long and prosper. Visit www.bio-meme.com.