AI Solutions in Dermatology

Elcin Ergin, Data Scientist

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Recently, I have been checking for some skincare subreddits to read reviews for a moisturizer. I was shocked that many people are posting their skin disease photos to a public forum to get a diagnosis. They ask if it looks like psoriasis, perioral dermatitis, or rosacea. Random people are commenting and suggesting many different products.

If we look at some official statistics, it is no coincidence that many people look for answers in online forums and communities for their skin conditions. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, 20% of Canadians live with acne, 1 million Canadians have psoriasis, and 2 million Canadians are diagnosed with rosacea [3]. Bridgman et. al. show that approximately 38% of Canadians are affected by a skin disease condition [4].

On the other hand, patients wait for months to consult a specialist due to the doctor shortage. In Quebec, this number is 12 months on average [5]. This disproportion is not an easy problem to solve. AI could be the solution that we seek to improve the efficiency of healthcare processes.

Since the term artificial intelligence (AI) was introduced in 1956 [1], the discipline has evolved and been applied to solve problems in many areas such as retail, energy, finance, internet, law, manufacturing, transportation, gaming, services, and so on. In 2022, it is hard to find a field where we do not see any AI/ML (machine learning) applications.

Healthcare is no different. Virtual nursing assistance, medical image diagnosis, robot-assisted surgery, medication management, and early prediction of diseases are only a handful of AI applications in the medical field. According to Accenture, “AI applications can potentially create $150 billion in annual savings for the United States healthcare economy by 2026”, and “AI can address an estimated 20% of unmet clinical demand” [2].

ORO Health

ORO Health provides tools to healthcare professionals to create their virtual presence. At ORO Health, we aim to provide solutions for healthcare professionals to make their lives easier, which will eventually help them to reach more patients and  reduce the unmet clinical demand. The foundations of ORO Health were laid by the birth of Dermago which allows patients to consult a dermatologist from the comfort of their home. Thus, on the AI side, we also started with an application on dermatology: DermSmart, the skin ailment detection application.

DermSmart: Skin Ailment Detection with Deep Learning

DermSmart is an assisted recommendation engine for multiple skin ailments. Our first idea was to create a medical device that family doctors could use, but we discovered an even greater need with a more broad audience: the beauty industry.

DermSmart: A portable skin assistant

Ultimately, once approved as a medical device, the dermatologists who treat patients on online platforms can work faster with this AI-powered assistance. They receive suggested recommendations from a list of non-life-threatening skin ailments. The embedded system accelerates and refines each consultation.

On the other hand, DermSmart can be used at the triage level to give suggestions to facilitate patient flow in the healthcare system in the physical or online setting.

Many people with skin conditions also visit beauticians to get an over-the-counter treatment. Beauticians help with many non-life-threatening and mild skin conditions for their customers. They recommend over-the-counter skin care treatments, serums, and creams. DermSmart is a practical tool in their arsenal to help their customers with more informed suggestions, and directs them to see a dermatologist when there is a risk of a more severe condition.

DermSmart detects multiple skin ailments in an optimized and efficient way. The tool can work either as a standalone tool or be integrated into any platform efficiently. The main strength of DermSmart is that the algorithm is trained with real-life photos taken by patients and labelled by dermatologists. The continuous feedback coming from dermatologists improves the results constantly.

In addition to suggesting recommendations, the tool can evaluate the confidence level of this suggestion. It provides additional information to the medical practitioner or the beautician to make a more informed decision.

Overall, we believe that DermSmart will be a game-changer in dermatology and beauty industry. Hopefully, it will help patients consult dermatologists whenever they need so that they will not seek help in online forums by sharing their private data.

If you want to know more about our technology, visit the Medium Oro Health page