Is Miiskin Different From Google’s Derm Assist Technology?
This whitepaper outlines the key differences in approach to digital skin health taken by Miiskin and Derm Assist.
What is Derm Assist?
In May 2021, Google announced their plans to launch Derm Assist in Europe during 2021 after 3 years of machine learning and product development.
Derm Assist has been reported as an AI-powered tool that will help people to self-assess hundreds of skin conditions by uploading photos of their skin and answering accompanying questions. Derm Assist then analyses the information and offers a list of possible matching conditions, providing personalised advice to the user.
Google AI tool Derm Assist © Google
It’s not surprising Google has decided to focus their efforts on the dermatology space for a consumer healthcare offering. In dermatology, the problem is very often highly visible to the patient, and so patients have a high tendency to look for information and solutions to their problems. This is evident by the number of Google searches in this area with Google reporting close to 10 billion searches a year globally for terms relating to skin, hair and nails. In addition, it’s reported that each year 2 billion people are affected by skin conditions, so choosing dermatology as an area to try and offer help is clearly a great idea in terms of the scale of the problem.
The Main Differences Between Miiskin and Derm Assist
Miiskin agrees that consumer health tech is needed to assist people with their skin problems, and we have offered our world leading skin self-monitoring app to help people understand their skin and keep track of how it changes over time so that professional help can be sought as soon as it is needed.
So, are Miiskin and Derm Assist the same or even similar?
When thinking about how to help someone with the challenge of a skin condition with consumer health tech, it’s helpful to split the challenge into two areas:
|ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS||MANAGE CHRONIC SKIN CONDITIONS|
Technology to assist with the assessment and diagnosis of the skin condition, and this is where Google’s Derm Assist will focus.
Technology to help manage potentially life threatening and often long term skin conditions. This is how Miiskin helps its users.
Miiskin does not attempt to offer any assessment or diagnosis of skin conditions. We believe that this is a task that should be undertaken by highly trained healthcare specialists.
Focus: Assessment and Potential Diagnosis
Google’s Derm Assist will focus on assessment and potential diagnosis when it is launched.
The Derm Assist AI model analyzes photographs and patient reported information and uses information it holds on 288 different skin, hair or nail conditions to offer a list of possible matching conditions.
It has already been reported as “an AI-powered tool that will assist consumers in self-diagnosing hundreds of skin conditions” and it is easy to see why, as in offering a list, Google seems to be making an assessment of what the user is suffering from in order to make this list relevant. It’s hard to see how users of Derm Assist will see the list as anything other than potential diagnoses.
Derm Assist © Google
Google stresses that “The tool is not intended to provide a diagnosis nor be a substitute for medical advice as many conditions require clinician review, in-person examination, or additional testing like a biopsy. Rather we hope it gives you access to authoritative information so you can make a more informed decision about your next step.”
The tool is the result of 3 years of machine learning and product development and has been written about in a number of eminent, peer reviewed scientific publications. Their landmark study was published in Nature which concluded “These results highlight the potential of the DLS (Deep Learning Systems) to assist general practitioners in diagnosing skin conditions.”.
The most recent paper in JAMA concluded that:
“Artificial intelligence may help clinicians diagnose skin conditions more accurately in primary care practices, where most skin diseases are initially evaluated.”
Both the scientific studies have assessed the use of Derm Assist to help healthcare professionals in the accuracy of their own assessments.
The scientific studies do not show that Derm Assist can help people make their own assessments of their skin conditions based on photographs that they have taken at home.
According to Google, Derm Assist is planned for launch in Europe later this year after it has been CE marked as a class 1 Medical Device within the EU. It has not been assessed by the FDA, which would be required for a launch in the USA.
Focus: Manage Chronic Skin Conditions
Miiskin focuses on helping people manage chronic skin conditions, rather than seek to diagnose or assess the condition.
This is where the very important difference lies between Miiskin and Derm Assist.
Miiskin does not offer or lead the patient to any assessment or diagnosis of the photographs that people take within its world leading App.
Instead, Miiskin empowers people to monitor their own skin and share changes or concerns with their dermatologists or preferred healthcare provider. In sharing high quality images taken over time with their doctor, it also provides additional information to the doctor to help the doctor make better-informed medical decisions. Miiskin believe that dermatologists should assess and diagnose serious and potentially life threatening skin diseases, not Apps or other technology.
Miiskin is a patient app for monitoring and tracking skin and moles which helps the patient to be able to check, identify and document changes in their skin’s appearance and then seek medical assessment as soon as anything worrying is spotted
Failure to identify a malignant skin change can have severe consequences while other skin conditions are very difficult to control and manage over time. Any mole or lesion that changes or the appearance of a new mole or mark on the skin can be an early sign of skin cancer.
Early detection of skin cancer is very important for successful treatment with over a 98% survival rate of melanoma if it’s caught early. That’s why it is vital to get new marks or moles and changing moles checked out by a dermatologist without delay. However it is very challenging to spot new lesions or early changes and that’s where Miiskin helps through its technology.
Miiskin App ©Miiskin
Miiskin’s Automatic Skin Imaging feature assists the user to take consistent, high quality full body and multi angle facial photographs without the help of anyone else, so they can be compared for changes over time. Skin Mapping helps the identification of new marks or moles and Mole Sizing helps people determine if a mole is changing size from the photographs they take.
Wound care and post-surgical scars often require multiple follow-up consultations. Skin conditions such as Acne, Eczema and Psoriasis are challenging to control and often require ongoing medical consultations and monitoring. Once again, Miiskin’s patient centred technology assists in monitoring the skin over time to identify and document the development, history and treatment process. It can also facilitate teledermatology consultations based on the high quality images that can be shared with a patients dermatologist in a safe and secure manner.
Miiskin is very different from Derm Assist through its focus on the management of chronic skin conditions (skin self-monitoring) rather than Derm Assist’s approach to help assessment and diagnosis of skin conditions.
Both approaches have great long-term potential for patients and over stretched healthcare systems in the challenges posed by skin conditions.
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