Telemedicine, Startups

3Derm prepares for commercial launch of b2b2c teledermatology platform

3Derm CEO and Co-founder Elizabeth Asai said so far, its platform is live in two clinics and is at various stages of being installed in five others.

3derm_imagerTeledermatology startup 3Derm is marking its official launch at the American Telemedicine Association conference kicking off next week.

3Derm is a spin-out of Yale University and graduated from Healthbox’s Boston class three years ago. The company developed an imaging system designed to be used by primary care physicians to capture 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional images. A dermatologist goes through these images and determines which cases warrant an in-person visit sooner rather than later and which cases can be diagnosed purely by the image or are less urgent. It uses a business-to-business-to-consumer model, as opposed to a direct-to-consumer model.

In a phone interview with Elizabeth Asai, CEO and co-founder of the Boston-based company, she said the results of a cross-sectional study it did at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center garnered a lot of interest because at 350 participants, it was its largest study to date. Two previous IRB studies involved 50 and 70 patients at a time.

The efficacy study at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center identified an equivalent number of skin cancers using images from its 3Derm system compared with in-person visits. It identified 70 percent of patients with benign conditions at the point of care, reducing unnecessary referrals to dermatology practices, according to the study findings. Asai said it’s planning to release more details of the study at the ATA conference.

Asai said so far, its platform is live in two clinics and is at various stages of being installed in five others. It is targeting groups outside of the New England area — it is headquartered in Boston.

“We had a lot of pent-up customer demand, but they were waiting for the clinical results. That’s opened the floodgates.”

3Derm is also at a crossroads in healthcare reform. Although the Affordable Care Act is intended to shift the payment model from fee-for-service to outcomes-based care, the majority of practices interested in its service use a fee-for-service model. Yet, it also stands to benefit from the growing number of states passing parity laws. So far, 29 states have passed legislation for private coverage that reimburses for remote care at the same rate as in-person care, according to data from ATA. Another eight states are reviewing parity legislation for private coverage.

Asked what kinds of trends she has seen in the teledermatology space, Asai observed that it has seen several direct to consumer app developers white label their software for primary care for research purposes. It makes sense, because it reduces the risk of getting in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, regulatory bodies that have not taken kindly to companies that try to make medical claims about their apps without the backing of scientific proof. The FTC slapped fines on a couple of companies in this area last year.