Skin Analytics: Skin cancer detection during COVID-19

DigitalHealth.London Accelerator Alumnus, Skin Analytics, is aiming to reduce delays in skin cancer detection during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Skin Analytics was formed in 2012 with the goal of helping more people survive skin cancer. Part of the 2017/18 DigitalHealth.London Accelerator cohort, the company has built a series of clinically validated AI algorithms that can take a dermascopic image of a skin lesion and help identify skin cancer.

The SME and their partners University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) are now piloting a new skin cancer community assessment service to safely reduce delays in skin cancer detection and treatment during the Coronavirus pandemic.

There are between 8-13 million GP appointments booked for skin cancer assessments every year across the UK. Around 16,200 people are diagnosed with melanoma, which is now the fifth most common cancer in Britain. While 2,300 people die each year, the survival rates improve significantly if the disease is caught early. By introducing a tele-dermatology service, UHB referred patients will have potentially cancerous skin lesions assessed and receive life-saving treatment sooner.

During the pilot, referred patients will be provided with skin cancer triage outside of the hospital setting, using AI technology to capture high quality images of those lesions which may be melanoma and requiring priority investigation by a Dermatologist, and those that are safe to defer according to the BAD guidelines. The service will help flatten the demand curve to manage the ongoing clinical risk when social isolation measures are lifted, and the latent demand is released.

Nick Barlow, Director of Applied Digital Health, UHB said: “Identifying patients with melanoma over the coming weeks or months and providing treatment sooner will provide significant benefits. Managing the clinical risk and finding the patients who need treatment for melanoma will also be a key focus for hospitals well beyond the COVID-19 crisis. I’m incredibly proud of the way the UHB team worked with Skin Analytics to safely design and launch this pilot in just a few short weeks.”

Neil Daly, CEO of Skin Analytics said: “The AI triage pathway delivers two benefits for the health system through capacity and demand management for dermatology cancer services. It has been an incredible effort to get this service ready so quickly and is a great example of how well the NHS is responding to the challenge of Covid-19.”

“Being part of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme helped us more clearly understand the needs of the NHS and how we can work with them to meet those needs. The programme provided us with invaluable contacts, resources and learnings.”

Sara Nelson, Programme Director of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator said, “Skin Analytics provides an easy solution to the challenge of skin cancer detection in a time of social-distancing, using devices commonly found in the home. It is collaborations like this one between Skin Analytics and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust that will ensure patients are still able to receive the rapid diagnosis and instigation of treatment plans needed during this uncertain time.”