Irish medtech firm DermView is in talks to raise €2m to help in its bid to revolutionise dermatology in Ireland and a number of key international markets.
The firm went live three months ago with 22 Irish clinics at primary care centres, which is expected to rise to 35 by early next year ahead of planned expansion to the UK.
"What we've done is build and create an overall full teledermatology service, more than just an actual IT platform. It is a medical-grade service that has dermatology consultants on board from the start," said DermView CEO Eoin O'Reilly.
"We've already aligned ourselves with a partner in the UK with plans to open across there early next year. We're already in talks with Canada and we're now probably going to the US much quicker than we expected through some of the investors that are coming on board."
GPs can now refer patients to a local DermView clinic and this costs €160. Qualified nurses take a specialised high-grade photographic scan of the problem area on a patient's body and this is sent instantly to one of 15 Irish-based consultant dermatologists working with the company.
"Using our technology, our consultants can diagnose a problem instantly," said O'Reilly. "This means that the patient can be diagnosed more quickly than with the traditional model and treatment and management plans can rapidly be put in place by the consultants and returned to the patient's GP."
As the firm expands its service internationally it will utilise consultants in the patient's own country, said O'Reilly.
The company is running a pilot with the HSE through St James's Hospital which on average has reduced the number of patients with skin issues sent by GPs into the hospital by 50pc, he said.
Public patients in Ireland face a six-year-long waiting list and the DermView service can provide access to a consultant where needed within 30 days, said O'Reilly.
Ireland is not unique in having long waiting times for dermatology services and this has ensured significant interest from potential partners in the US and the UK, he said.
DermView, which is an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up (HPSU), is also planning an upgrade to its technology that will reduce the amount of training needed to use the system.
"Teledermatology is not new but the key to our service is the quality of image we provide to consultants. We're working with IBM Watson to use artificial intelligence to allow us to hand the technology to any nurse and it will take the perfect medical grade image every time. This will allow us to deploy the service into GP surgeries directly."