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In Skin research and technology : official journal of International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin (ISBS) [and] International Society for Digital Imaging of Skin (ISDIS) [and] International Society for Skin Imaging (ISSI)

BACKGROUND : Despite the increasing ubiquity and accessibility of teledermatology applications, few studies have comprehensively surveyed their features and technical standards. Importantly, features implemented after the point of capture are often intended to augment image utilization, while technical standards affect interoperability with existing healthcare systems. We aim to comprehensively survey image utilization features and technical characteristics found within publicly discoverable digital skin imaging applications.

MATERIALS AND METHODS : Applications were identified and categorized as described in Part I. Included applications were then further assessed by three independent reviewers for post-imaging content, tools, and functionality. Publicly available information was used to determine the presence or absence of relevant technology standards and/or data characteristics.

RESULTS : A total of 20 post-image acquisition features were identified across three general categories: (1) metadata attachment, (2) functional tools (i.e., those that utilized images or in-app content to perform a user-directed function), and (3) image processing. Over 80% of all applications implemented metadata features, with nearly half having metadata features only. Individual feature occurred and feature richness varied significantly by primary audience (p < 0.0001) and function (p < 0.0001). On average, each application included under three features. Less than half of all applications requested consent for user-uploaded photos and fewer than 10% provided clear data use and privacy policies.

CONCLUSION : Post-imaging functionality in skin imaging applications varies significantly by primary audience and intended function, though nearly all applications implemented metadata labeling. Technical standards are often not implemented or reported consistently. Gaps in the provision of clear consent, data privacy, and data use policies should be urgently addressed.

Sun Mary D, Kentley Jonathan, Wilson Britney W, Soyer H Peter, Curiel-Lewandrowski Clara N, Rotemberg Veronica M, Halpern Allan C


artificial intelligence, clinical imaging, digital tools, mobile applications, quality assurance, teledermatology