News Article

This Blue Cross-funded startup says remote dermatology is the way of the future

Inknowvation Site Notes

Involved in SBIR only for one Award from NSF, coming out of Yale and relocated to Boston when 3Derm Systems moved in the Blue Cross Blue Shield incubator, are just a few of the factors that make the firm representative of what SBIR is increasingly about - not the least of which being that the firm is representative of the types of technology development underway in SBIR firms that is potentially gamechanging.
Date: May 10, 2016
Author: Jessica Bartlett
Source: bizjournals ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: 3Derm Systems LLC of Boston, MA

A Yale-developed startup is in growth mode and is seeking funding after proving that its telemedicine dermatology service works as well as in-person visits.

The Boston-based company, 3Derm, has been developing the technology since 2010, enabling primary care physicians to use its specialized camera and app to better diagnose skin conditions.

"The clinical study was the last milestone before going to market," said CEO and co-founder Elizabeth Asai. "It was something we spent a lot of time planning and studying and the results were near ideal."

Results from a study done by UMass Memorial Medical Center, which will be presented at the American Telemedicine Association Conference this month, were given to the company late last year, allowing the 3Derm to go live with seven health systems of varying size and an 18-office private dermatology group in January.

Plans are already in place to add two more health systems by the end of the year.

The company, which has six full-time employees, acts as the connector between a primary care physician and a dermatologist. A primary care doctor uploads a series of 3D photos and stats about a patient to a secure cloud-based system, which is then accessed by dermatologists.

A dermatologist can then tell a primary care physician if the problem can be handled at the primary care level, or if the patient should be seen by a dermatologist for follow-up care.
Patients are then referred to a dermatologist in the health systems' network or are seen by dermatology groups that partner with 3Derm.

"(Dermatologists) love the idea of in person visits would become reserved for people with urgent conditions," Asai said. "For a dermatologist who is intrigued by complex cases...this is a great way to screen out patients who have a benign condition and the people coming in appreciate getting in faster and have higher utilization of dermatology expertise."

The UMass Memorial study has proven the effectiveness, showing that when using the system, 70 percent of patients with benign conditions could be cared for by their primary care physician, reducing unnecessary referrals to dermatology.

Teams at UMass Memorial are interested in implementing the technology, as reducing the number of unnecessary visits to dermatologists will help reduce costs and free up appointments for patients that need them.

"Accountable Care Organizations like ours are eager to adopt emerging technology that improves quality and efficiency while reducing costs," said Thomas Scornavacca, senior medical director of population health for UMass Memorial.

The company is currently in the midst of raising an undisclosed amount funding, with the hopes to expand the platform beyond Massachusetts. So far, the company hopes to double its full-time employee headcount with the help of a $1 million accelerator loan from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center received in 2015.

The company has also received office space and funding from the investment arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Zaffre investments.

Jessica Bartlett covers health care, including hospitals, health IT, health policy and insurance, as well as the beer industry.