Following recent news of Skin Analytics’ success in the AI in Health and Care Award, we find out more about the technology, what the award means to the company, and how they’ve been working with KSS AHSN and the wider AHSN Network.
Founded in 2012, Skin Analytics has worked with leading experts in dermatology, clinical research and general practice to develop DERM, which analyses dermoscopic images of skin lesions using AI algorithms.
DERM is a CE and UKCA marked medical device designed to help relieve pressure on primary and secondary care services while helping more people to survive skin cancer. It is the only AI solution currently that can classify eleven different lesion types, and is designed to accelerate patient diagnosis.
Already deployed in Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership and University Hospitals Birmingham, DERM has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals while helping to tackle the dermatology backlog created by COVID-19.
The role of DERM
Skin Analytics’s goal is to help alleviate pressure on the NHS Dermatology system. Their AI-supported teledermatology platform helps clinicians identify skin lesions earlier in the pathway, so that Dermatologists spend less time redirecting patients and instead, spend time treating patients who need them most, whether that be two week wait (2ww) or elective care patients.
When deployed in primary care, Skin Analytics is used as a clinical decision support tool by GPs to aid with their decision making, helping GPs to place patients on the right pathway from the start.
In secondary care, Skin Analytics enables AI teledermatology hubs, providing an adjunctive tool to support dermatologists to triage cases and direct patients to the right next step. This helps discharge benign referrals earlier in the pathway, speed up cancer diagnosis, re-allocate dermatologists’ resources to focus on patients who truly need their care and prevent unnecessary hospital visits for patients for whom advice and guidance is better suited.
AI in Health and Care Award
The company was recently one of five to be granted a Phase 4 Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) AI in Health and Care Award by NHSX, allowing it to access part of a £140m fund to further evaluate the technology within the NHS.
As part of the Award, DERM is set to be rolled out to six NHS sites in England, enabling further real-world evaluation of the process, with a particular emphasis on proving the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
Neil Daly, CEO of Skin Analytics, said that the AI award represents a major step forward in making DERM more widely available across the NHS.
“This funding will enable us to put our technology into the hands of more GPs and clinicians around the country and allow them to assess its benefits for themselves,” he said.
“The key to skin cancer survival is early diagnosis, and DERM helps to prioritise patients into specialist services sooner rather than later. At the same time, we can more effectively manage the sharply rising demand for dermatology services with the workforce we have.”
The role of the AHSN Network
Skin Analytics has received a range of support from a number of AHSNs, including evaluation services from Eastern AHSN and support around webinars and group events from UCLP, linked in to the NHS NIA Innovation Accelerator.
As part of the Health Improvement Network led Dermatology Improvement Collaborative, KSS AHSN helped Skin Analytics with its successful bid to the AI in Health and Care Award, helping analyse its evidence and connecting them with potential deployment sites.
Outside of the awards process KSS AHSN brokered discussions with local systems who provided valuable feedback. Internally to the network KSS AHSN has helped other AHSNs by providing information about the DERM system, notably West of England AHSN and Yorkshire and Humberside AHSN.
Dan Mullarkey, Medical Director at Skin Analytic, said that the support from the AHSN Network has been helpful in the company’s journey.
“The AHSN Network has helped accelerate the use of our novel technology across the NHS. They’re trusted experts within the system and they have the knowledge and network to help us navigate a given locality, helping to introduce us to clinical, operational and independent evaluation teams. These connections really help to ensure we’re building a product and partnerships that align with what the NHS really needs.”
The AHSNs remain a critical resource for innovation in the NHS. By providing guidance and acting as the connection between innovators and NHS organisations looking to solve problems, the AHSNs support those first crucial steps towards successful collaboration.
Jill Owens, Programme Manager at KSS AHSN, said that Skin Analytics’ experience of working with the AHSNs pays testament to the Network’s strength.
“Each AHSN is committed to transforming lives through innovation, and through the AHSN Network Innovation Exchange we’re collectively helping innovators understand what the NHS challenges are, and connecting them to the help they need,” she explained.
“KSS AHSN is delighted to have played a role in Skin Analytics’ success, and we look forward to supporting them further as they explore the opportunities that will open up as a result of their success in the AI in Health and Care Award.”