For primary care physicians and dermatologists, keeping track of suspicious skin lesions can be difficult. Often times you are reliant on your patient to determine if a particular skin lesion is growing or changing. You can measure the lesion yourself, but repeat measurements by different health care providers could lead to different results. You can obviously take a picture of the lesion yourself, but storing the image and measuring it can be extremely cumbersome.
The release of a new iPhone medical peripheral and concurrent app could change how suspicious lesions are tracked.
The Handyscope is an iPhone peripheral that converts your phone into a dermatoscope. Dermatoscopes can be used by dermatologists to help distinguish between benign and cancerous skin lesions. The Handyscope slides onto your iPhone and magnifies your camera, producing up to 20x magnification. The device has built in LEDs, batteries, and is sold for both the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3Gs.
The most compelling feature of the Handyscope is the concurrent handyscope app [iTunes link]. The app stores the image, and from initial looks, has a robust user interface. You are able to store multiple images to particular patients — and most importantly, a built in ruler within the app allows you to easily keep track of the suspicious lesion in a consistent manner [refer to second picture]. You can feel significantly more confident when looking at a particular lesion that it has not grown over time or changed color, possibly even saving the patient from having to undergo a biopsy.
Although the makers of the Handyscope say there is secure encryption within the application, they don’t explicitly state if the app is HIPAA compliant. The device itself costs a hefty $1,582, and the app costs $11.99.
Overall, this type of software and mobile hardware synergy is fascinating. The mobility of the device allows it to be used for rural skin cancer screenings — enabling providers to send pictures of suspicious lesions to distant dermatologists, or even taking it abroad when screening in underdeveloped countries. At the end of the day, the total package of medical peripheral + mobile phone + software app, equals a dynamic mobile electronic medical record of sorts.
Now, as to the quality of the pictures and follow through on the potential — until providers get to actually use it and judge for themselves, that’s still left to be determined.