Dermatology clinic chain DermView has announced plans to open 15 new facilities to help patients on public waiting lists who have to wait for anything up to six years to see a dermatologist.
DermView, an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-up, already has 20 clinics around the country.
These clinics are staffed by qualified nurses who, using specialised equipment, take a photographic scan of the problem area on a patient's body which is sent instantly to one of 15 consultant dermatologists working with the company.
The company said 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 doctor.
According to official statistics, there are 46,500 people on the public waiting list for dermatological services.
This means that a patient could waiting as long as six years to be seen by a dermatologist.
Dr Rupert Barry, Consultant Dermatologist and Co-founder of DermView Ltd, said teledermatology could cut waiting times significantly and have an impact on the overall health of a patient.
"For me as a dermatologist who works everyday with patients with skin cancer, the main problem is access to care in an appropriate timeframe," he explained.
"Under the current referral system, if a patient has a skin condition which requires referral to a specialist for an opinion, the GP writes a referral letter which will be sent to the dermatology department. You will then get an appointment date which if deemed urgent may be a matter of months or it could even be years," he added.
But with DermView the process is considerably faster.
"Your GP refers you to your local DermView clinic, who will take high quality macroscopic and microscopic images, along with your GPs medical history," Dr Barry said.
"The data will then be relayed securely to our platform where the case will be read, a diagnosis made and advice on management given within a matter of mere weeks," he added.
A visit to a DermView clinic costs €160 which can be reclaimed from certain private insurance plans. This compares to the current system where a patient pays €250/€300 to see a consultant face to face.
"Although we are currently a private service, we are seeing a large volume of public patients attending our clinics to avoid the huge waiting times to get a diagnosis and put their minds to rest", Eoin O'Reilly, DermView CEO, said.
DermView is also looking at opening clinics in the UK by the summer of next year with partners already lined up. The company said that the EU and Canada will be its next targets.
The company is in the process of a €2m seed funding round to fund expansion as well as taking its technology to the next level.