Because skin cancer is such a large problem, coupled with advances in AI, Daly notes that there were initially many companies working in this space, seeing an explosion of competitors in 2014 with around 50 companies in the field. “All but 3 or 4 are gone now as the reality of how complex the technology is and how challenging operating as a clinical company hits home,” he says, before adding that there appears to be another wave of competitors surfacing. “In reality, we’ve spent so much time learning from our mistakes in developing our AI, this is one of our main points of difference,” cautions the Skin Analytics founder. “It is too easy to get started and think you’ve made a great algorithm, but when you test it in the real world — and you can only do this with a prospective clinical study — the performance just isn’t there.
Daly says that Skin Analytics has developed a clinically validated AI system that can identify not only the important skin cancers, but the pre-cancerous lesions which can be treated by GPs and a range of benign lesions. “We can do that using a low cost attachment and a smartphone, allowing us to put this into innovative patient pathways either at GP practices or in hospitals,” he says. “By using our service, we can reduce the number of patients who end up in hospital by 40-60%, depending on where our technology is used.
The idea is to enable health systems and insurers to increase dermatology capacity by reducing the burden of diagnosis for dermatologists. “At its most simple, skin cancer is the world’s most common cancer and incidence is increasing around the world,” says Skin Analytics founder Neil Daly. “Overlay that with the fact there is a global shortage of dermatologists and we have a real challenge already with how we identify and deal with skin cancer”.