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Phone Dermatologist

Last Tuesday, Google published an article detailing an exciting new app set to launch later in the year: an “AI-powered dermatology assist tool”. With just your smartphone’s camera, you can identify potential dermatologic issues. It’s a simple method to answer the “10 billion annual skin condition queries” Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer at Google Health, stated – a replacement of the hours of online research we usually spend on finding a diagnosis.

Its Purpose

The purpose of this app is to aid those suffering such skin issues. This is particularly useful considering the shortage of specialised dermatologists, as this tool can identify 26 common conditions as accurately as these specialists. Thus, other than helping patients worldwide, the system could also help non-specialist primary care physicians in diagnosing dermatological conditions more accurately.

The AI was developed with intensive training. Millions of clinical images were used, depicting both healthy and problematic skin. Simply taking three images of the area of concern and answering questions regarding skin type and symptoms enables the system to form an analysis, narrowing down conditions from the 288 it has been trained to identify. Google says that the correct condition was identified as a top three suggestion about 84% of the time.

Patients are not just left with a possible answer though. They will also be given more information – from frequently asked questions to dermatologist-reviewed information, the user can then make an informed decision to see a specialist. Google reiterates that this tool is not used to properly diagnose medical skin conditions, even with its overwhelming accuracy.

This is just another example of how technological innovation is progressing today's healthcare. In the EU, this AI model has already passed clinical validation and has been marked as a Class I medical device. Google is also taking the steps for this tool to be approved by the FDA in the US.


Written by Nichapatr (Petch) Lomtakul

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