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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Dermatology Online Journal

Volume 23, Issue 2, February 2017, Article number doj_33976.

The published version is available here. Copyright © Wang et al.


This commentary addresses the emerging market for health-related smartphone applications. Specific to dermatology, there has been a significant increase not only in applications that promote skin cancer awareness and education but also in those meant for detection. With evidence showing that 365 dermatology-related applications were available in 2014--up from 230 in 2012--and that 1 in 5 patients under the age of 50 have used a smartphone to help diagnose a skin problem, there is clearly a large subset of patients participating in this growing trend. Therefore, we are obligated to take a closer look into this phenomenon. Studies have shown that applications are inferior to in-person consultations with one study showing that 3 out of 4 applications incorrectly classified 30% or more melanomas as low-risk lesions. Although the FDA gained regulatory oversight over mobile health applications in 2012 and recently released their statement in 2015, their reach only extends to cover a selected portion of these applications, leaving many unregulated as they continue to be marketed toward our patients. Dermatologists should be updated on our current situation in order to properly counsel patients on the risks and benefits of these applications and whether they are acceptable for use. © 2016 by the article author(s).

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