App project to help diagnose skin abnormalities shortlisted for prestigious award

A project which helps speed-up skin cancer diagnosis on the Isle of Wight has been shortlisted for a 2020 Health Service Journal Award, recognising its outstanding contribution to healthcare. 

The team running the project, made up of Isle of Wight CCG, Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Lighthouse Medical, Wessex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and Gnosco, has been shortlisted in the Primary Care Innovation of the Year category. 

The project has seen GP practices on the Isle of Wight use an app-based innovation to help rapidly refer people who are concerned about skin abnormalities. The technology reduces waiting times, some from over a month to just a few days, reduces the amount of follow-up appointments required and supports social distancing, which has been vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The app is called Dermicus, and it photographs and helps to diagnose skin issues, including skin cancer. It rapidly shares images of suspect skin legions between GPs and dermatologists. 

This is especially useful for the Isle of Wight, if the dermatologist is not physically on the island, so they are able to diagnose remotely. 

The project was initially launched last year, and now every GP surgery on the Island is using the app. The app - and new way of working - has seen waiting times between referral and review decrease dramatically. 

Previously, the average wait from referral to first consultant review was 26 days. Previously, the average wait from referral to first consultant review was 26 days. For referrals that have been using Dermicus, the wait time is 0.6 days: 

 For routine referrals, the wait time decreased from 33 days
 For urgent referrals, the wait time decreased from 27 days
 For two-week wait referrals the wait time decreased from 10 days
 All to 0.6 days. 

Due to the remote referral there has been a reduction in follow-up appointments, as patients are being booked straight to a biopsy if required. This means they do not need the first appointment to confirm if a biopsy is required.

Dr Michele Legg, a GP in Ryde and a Clinical Chair for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “I'm delighted to hear that this initiative has received this deserved national recognition. It's been a real team effort from the NHS on the Island to improve both health outcomes and the patient experience – and it is already proving its worth.” 

Joe Smyth, Chief Operating Officer at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “We are extremely proud of the team who have been involved with the roll out of teledermatoscopy. By embracing new technologies, we have introduced a programme of diagnosis that increases accessibility and equal treatment for our patients with suspected skin cancer.

“Our island community has been at the heart of this partnership working and we are pleased that along with dramatically reducing waiting times between referral and review, that the team's efforts are being recognised by being shortlisted for a healthcare award.” 

Diane Goring, Clinical Director for Lighthouse Medical Ltd, said “The team at Lighthouse Medical is delighted to be shortlisted. Over the past 12 months, working with partners across the Island, the team has worked exceptionally hard to implement teledermatology across all Island GP Practices. 

“This work has ensured a continuity in timely patient care that has proved invaluable, especially during this challenging year in healthcare. 2020 has seen so many innovative approaches to delivering healthcare using technology and we are committed to providing a service for all Island.” 

Matthew Williams, primary care innovations manager at Wessex AHSN said: “It is a testament to the hard work of all the teams involved with this project that it has been shortlisted for this prestigious award. There has been enthusiasm from all areas of the health care system on the Isle of Wight to embrace and adopt this technology; to provide an improved experience for patients, and the results we have seen, prove the efforts have been worthwhile. 

“The platform has received positive feedback from both patients and clinicians, and has also helped the dermatology service continue to operate during the current pandemic. To be shortlisted for this award is a credit to all involved.” 

Philip Daniels-May, Business Development Director of Gnosco, said: "The implementation of the new skin cancer pathway with Isle of Wight CCG, Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Wessex AHSN and Lighthouse Medical has felt like working with colleagues, rather than the typical customer-supplier relationship. 

“It's fantastic to see the results of everyday use with patients and the adoption by the GPs and nurses. To be recognised by the HSJ Awards shortlisting is a bonus. As a team, we are looking forward to presenting our experiences to the judging panel in January."