The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is getting a relief from patient wait times for skin cancer referrals due to the combined use of a dermatoscope smartphone camera attachment and a digital app.

The app, Cinapsis, was designed and built by NHS surgeon Dr Owain Rhys Hughes and a team of healthcare professionals. The tech has been rolled out across GPs in Norfolk and Waveney and shows promising results in reducing skin cancer referrals.

The app acts as a direct link between GPs and hospital consultants, giving them a second opinion from specialists without the need for immediate face-to-face consultations. Using a dermatoscope attachment on their phones, GPs can send clinical-grade images of the patient skin to consultants. Using this information, they can remotely offer guidance and treatment options to the GP within 48 hours.

Traditionally, patients with signs of skin cancer would be referred by their GP to specialist for a consolation with urgent referrals taking up to two weeks and cases in the rolled-out areas taking 57 weeks. This puts pressure on an already exasperated NHS. In Norfolk and Waveney alone the backlog of patients waiting specialist treatment for skin conditions is 7,800. Approximately 79.6% of urgent skin cancer referrals have been reduced using the app so far.

Praising the partnership between his practice and Cinapsis, Dr Paul Everden, GP at North Norfolk Primary Care, said: “The roll-out of the teledermatology project in Norfolk and Waveney has been transformative in supporting our clinicians across primary and secondary care to collaborate and streamline referrals for urgent skin care.”

He added: “The technology has opened up more collaborative communication channels, enabling more joint, holistic decision making. It is helping us to meet the increasing demand for dermatology in Norfolk and Waveney effectively and sustainably.”

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Currently the project is embedded in 86 GP Surgeries and in the next few months Cinapsis plans to roll out the project in all 105 GPs in the area.