To identify skin cancers early, reduce the dependence on dermatology resources and number of hospital patients is a critical breakthrough. Neil Daly, CEO of Skin Analytics, explains.

At Skin Analytics, we are driven by our mission to help more people survive skin cancer. We are doing this by using innovative AI to enable globally sustainable skin cancer pathways that deliver better patient outcomes. We have a vision of a future where no one dies from skin cancer and this is at the core of what drives every person within the company.

Why are we focusing on skin cancer? Simply because it is the world’s most common form of cancer. In Europe, Australia and the US, there are around 1 billion clinical assessments each year and rates are only increasing. Combine this with a worldwide shortage of dermatologists (in the UK alone, there are over 200 unfilled positions), and we are facing a real challenge with how we manage this disease.

So how does it work? Our unique AI technology provides dermatology capacity by identifying 11 different lesion types. These range from malignant and pre-malignant lesions that can be treated if assessed early enough, through to benign lesions where patients can be discharged or referred for further monitoring. We have designed innovative new skin cancer pathways that can leverage the skills that we have across the healthcare system, so that nurses, general practitioners and healthcare assistants can be upskilled to the level of a dermatologist. This will help to massively reduce the back log of patients waiting to be assessed for skin cancer. We have spent 8 years building this technology and by testing and validating each and every change we make and building on that knowledge, we know we now have the best algorithms in class.

This is validated by a number of clinical studies, including the world’s first powered perspective clinical study, which was able to show that our artificial intelligence worked as accurately as a dermatologist. However, we are not just focused on clinical evidence. We also look at health economics, and the resulting cost benefits of reducing referrals by up to 60% has estimated savings for the NHS of between 40 and 80 million pounds a year (depending on the model adopted).

We have just raised £4 million in Series A funding, led by Hoxton Ventures, with participation from Nesta and Mustard Seed Ventures. This investment will be used to expand our focus in the United States, which has been gaining momentum since we were awarded the “Breakthrough Device Designation” by the FDA as part of a programme designed to fast-track new technologies which can have a significant impact on the nation’s health.

We are also continuing to forge partnerships within the U.K.’s national health service, following the launch of the world’s first “AI-powered” clinical pathway in conjunction with University Hospital Birmingham. In 2020, covid-19 presented a serious challenge for the hospital when their ‘two-week-wait’ skin cancer list quickly grew to more than 500 patients. At the same time, they were handling one of the largest coronavirus case numbers on site, with increasing numbers of clinicians having to self-isolate. Along with a team from UHB, we managed to plan and launch an innovative AI pathway within weeks. Using safe sites outside of the hospital, staffed with HCAs and medical photographers, our technology was used to triage patients for UHB dermatologists. At the time of the most recent clinical analysis, these hubs had discharged around 30% of the two-week-wait cases, saving 391 dermatology appointments. This initial foray into real world AI use was generally very successful, and has only highlighted the need for technology such as ours in the modern world.

Leave a Reply