Back in 2015, the HÜD “smart mole scanner” appeared on crowd-funding website, IndieGoGo. Swedish for “skin”, HÜD is a camera lens attachment for mobile phones for taking close-up photographs of skin moles. Fast forward to 2016 and HÜD is now available to the public.
Dermatology has long been an active area in telemedicine and more recently mobile health. The basic idea of many offerings in this space are that people can get professional opinions on skin lesions by sending in a picture or use an app to monitor a known lesion. While there are some downsides compared to an in-person dermatology visit, issues around access and cost to traditional care have driven a lot of interest in teledermatology.
HÜD is smartphone attachment that lets users take detailed images of skin lesions. Launched last year by teledermatology company First Derm and a dermoscopy company DermLite, their crowdfunding campaign was successful with over $30,000 in funds raised. HÜD is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and is designed to work with both the app DermLite (for medical providers) and FirstDerm (for patients). Of note, DermLite also makes a number of other traditional dermatoscopes as well as mobile device adapters for them.
For users of FirstDerm, the HÜD is basically an upgrade to the already existing teledermatology consult app. Patients take a photo of the skin lesion they are concerned about, then upload the photo through the FirstDerm to a network of dermatologists. FirstDerm states the data is securely protected (anonymously), although I wasn’t able to find any information on whether the encryption was HIPPA compliant for the image uploads.
Interestingly, the app FirstDerm doesn’t require users to have the HÜD camera lens. It also works with a traditional smartphone camera (although without the resolution provided by the HÜD). FirstDerm has also been called iDoc24, and it was previously a finalist for the iMedicalApps-Medicine 2.0 Award in 2012. At that time, a Swedish study with iDoc24 noted a comparable diagnostic accuracy between face-to-face traditional dermatology meeting with a patient and use of two teledermaoscopists.
Of course, getting a telemedicine consult from a board-certified dermatologist, while potentially time-saving, isn’t free. FirstDerm states their users will have their lesion photographs reviewed within 24 hours, and the initial consult price is reportedly $25.
That being said, FirstDerm states clearly on their FAQ that it is not a substitute for a doctor’s visit, and that they will occasionally recommend seeing a physician in person after reviewing your skin lesion images.
Mobile telemedicine, be it for dermatology or plastic surgery, remains an exciting area of growth for mHealth technology.