An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to skin cancer. It’s the most common form of cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but if it’s caught early enough, patients are almost guaranteed to survive.
SkinIO, a new Chicago-based startup, is helping people prevent skin cancer by providing a service that allows them to regularly monitor their skin with the help of artificial intelligence and licensed dermatologists.
Users can take photos with their smartphone of their skin and lesions, and upload them to a database through SkinIO’s app. The app’s artificial intelligence can identify abnormalities or changes in patients’ skin. Those results are then viewed and assessed by licensed dermatologists, who notify patients of them.
The service was launched in June by CEO Kyoko Crawford and Jean-Christophe Lapiere, MD, a practicing dermatologist and co-founder of the Northwestern Skin Cancer Institute.
Users can download the app for free and then subscribe for a monthly subscription service for $9.99 per month or $100 per year. The app reminds users every month to take new photos of their skin, which are then processed through an AI-driven image processing algorithm and reviewed by remote dermatologists.
“Screening is not a one-time thing,” Crawford said. “We should be checking our skin regularly, whether it’s every month or every quarter. It matters that you’re reminded to take these photos consistently.”
Right now, the service is only available in Illinois, though Crawford said the company is working to expand to California, New York and other states in the Pacific Northwest by the end of the year. Expansion largely depends on collaborating with dermatologists in the area, she said.
“If our technology detects something new or changes in your skin, we want to direct you to a local dermatologist who can then see you in person and do what needs to be done to treat it,” Crawford said.
A clinical study by researchers at Northwestern was launched in February to examine the efficacy of SkinIO. The trial follows 50 high-risk patients over the course of a year who are uploading photos of their skin to the app once a month. Early results show that SkinIO’s technology is able to accurately detect and track changes in skin.
SkinIO employs nine people in its River North offices and has raised $1.5 million in funding. Crawford wouldn’t disclose exact user numbers, but said it’s in the hundreds.