At the World Congress of Dermatology in Vancouver on Tuesday there was an announcement of a smartphone app and iPhone device that can help with the diagnosis of skin cancer. MoleScope is an app and iPhone clip-on device that work in conjunction to help monitor skin lesions.
In the past we have written about the pitfalls of apps that provide help with determining cancerous lesions based on images from smartphones. MoleScope is different than the apps mentioned in that JAMA Dermatology piece.
MoleScope has received approval from Health Canada, is FDA registered as a Class 1 medical device in the U.S., and has received the CE Mark in Europe. Further, it’s not meant to actually diagnose cancerous lesions by itself — hence only the Class 1 medical device registration.
The Molescope iPhone attachment magnifies your phone’s lenses to enable a better picture. You can then upload the picture into the app. There is a base platform that costs $99.99 and a PRO version that costs $199.99. The Pro version appears to be aimed at health providers.
It’s nice to see Molescope’s developers actively working with regulatory bodies (FDA, Health Canada) in the process of developing the product and platform.
But the platform has limitations:
1) In the product video — they state one of the main reasons for creating the device and app was so patients could send their picture to a dermatologist (not necessarily their own Dermatologist) and get a quick consultation. Currently that feature isn’t offered unless you have an established dermatologist that is using the platform as well.
2) Currently you can only pre-order the attachment for iPhone 5c to 6+ versions. Android availability will be coming shortly, but with the several different form factors available for Android, one can imagine making a custom attachment for each would be extremely difficult and not feasible. We recently wrote how critical it is for Android to be considered when making health apps due to key health demographics disproportionally utilizing the Android platform.
3) I have serious doubts that a patient without any significant past medical history or risk factors would actually purchase this system for $99.00 and monitor their moles with it. You could argue that would be borderline inappropriate as well. However, I can see patients who have had melanoma before utilizing this to keep a close watch on concerning skin pathology.
4) If a Dermatologist does choose to use this system — there doesn’t appear to be a reimbursement method for the diagnostic advice.
Obviously, many of these items could get worked out before the official launch, but these will be key points to evaluate once MoleScope does go live.