TELEDERMATOLOGY SKIN CANCER DETECTION
Global Health Challenge:
Skin cancer is extremely prevalent both high and low income countries. In high income countries, it is easy to see a primary care physician and eventually get a diagnosis. However, in low resource settings, there is a lack of dermatological expertise and many benign skin lesions can go undiagnosed, leading them to eventually evolve into skin cancers. This problem has recently been addressed by teledermatology, a form of telemedicine that has recently revolutionized health care in the developing world. Telemedicine is a tool that allows doctors in low-income settings to have access to remote diagnosis and clinical decision making. In teledermatology, a picture of the affected region of skin is taken and then sent to a hospital to be analyzed by dermatologists. However, often the pictures are out of focus or discolored, leading to inaccurate diagnoses or even the inability to diagnose.
In order to help health care workers in low resource settings take in-focus, color-accurate photos of skin lesions, Rice 360° has developed a cell-phone attachment. This device consists of the phone attachment part, as well as a removable arm with a 2cm ruler and color scale. This teledermatology phone attachment system will allow nurses to take in-focus pictures of skin lesions from a distance of 10 cm away. Testing shows that the 10 cm distance provides in focus and accurately colored pictures 100% of the time. In contrast, the 7cm distance was more variable and only provided in focus pictures a few times throughout testing. A novel program- app- for mobile devices has also been developed by our GMI students that allows clinicians to quickly optimize image quality, obtain all the necessary information from images and submit encrypted images and data into the secure, hospital database, thus avoiding the security concerns associated with emailing patient images and sensitive information.
Both GMI and Rice 360° students brought this combined system to Barretto’s Cancer Hospital for demonstration and feedback during their summer internships. After working closely with doctors and clinical staff throughout the region in their mobile clinic unit, the team came back to Houston and incorporated suggestions into the device. This optimized system is now being tested in a 176 patient clinical evaluation at Barretto’s Cancer Hospital.