One in seven Canadians are diagnosed with a form of skin cancer in their lifetime, and according to the Government of Canada, the early detection of this disease is essential to positive outcomes, increasing survival rates by as much as 82 per cent.
Unfortunately, many patients are forced to wait for two months or longer for their dermatologist appointment.
In order to better serve them, medical professionals need to be equipped with the most advanced tools in dermatology for affordable, accessible, and efficient services, as well as hardware and software solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of dermatology image management.
The 2019 Ingenious Spark award winner, DermEngine, aims to accomplish just that.
The DermEngine solution was launched in 2016 with the help of co-founder Dr. Majid Razmara, who’s also the chief technical officer of MetaOptima. DermEngine is powered by artificial intelligence that features analytical capabilities supported by a unique set of algorithms. Razmara saw great potential for AI to improve dermatology image management technology, said Maryam Sadeghi, chief executive officer and co-founder of MetaOptima Technology.
“DermEngine has many algorithms designed and implemented based on the needs identified by our team of experts as well as our users and doctors who provide us continuous feedback. The current ones available in the platform are designed for workflow efficiency and educational and decision support purposes, and they are working based on imaging and non-imaging data to support our doctors in their everyday busy workflow,” said Sadeghi in an interview.
The implementation of Al algorithms to circumvent traditional bottleneck procedures in dermatology represents a significant breakthrough in the field, indicated Sadeghi. They also address other problems such as long appointment wait times, high false-positive biopsy rates, and the late detection of skin cancer and other serious conditions.
MetaOptima has launched several features on the platform since it first went live.
“DermEngine is a platform that offers new features as we learn about the needs of our doctors and patients and the new innovations will be available gradually over time. We are planning for the diagnostic features to be available in 2021 after finalizing the clinical studies and receiving the approvals,” said Sadeghi.
Rather than simply taking, storing, and sharing dermatology grade images, DermEngine is capable of tracking the smallest changes of a lesion over time, identifying irregular colouration, and assisting doctors with assessing risk by comparing an image to millions of other visually similar images.
Hence, MetaOptima set out to develop an intelligent dermatology software designed to allow medical professionals to expedite urgent cases while using the latest tools in artificial intelligence to support clinical decisions. Key metrics for success include streamlining imaging workflows by 80 per cent and maintaining or improving the platform’s image identification accuracy rate to 88 per cent.
DermEngine’s development was the response to a long-awaited need in the field for optimal teledermatology services that could satisfy the increasing demand for dermatology care. Hence, one of the key objectives of this solution is to increase the accuracy of diagnostics in order to decrease waiting times for patients to access life-saving treatment.
MetaOptima currently serves more than 500,000 patients around the world in major skin cancer centres of excellence through supporting medical professionals at every step of the care cycle with smart, proven tools.
“MetaOptima works with universities and academic centers very closely to advance our technology more and more and create a learning and growth environment for our young talents and students. We also have major partnerships such as our SuperCluster designed to bring different expertise from the industry partners and major healthcare providers and organizations such as the Providence Healthcare to implement a solution that can improve the quality of care and outcomes for our patients while supporting our doctors and helping our healthcare system to save costs,” Sadeghi explained.
In less than four years, MetaOptima has expanded to all corners of the globe to better support its users. With offices in Canada, Australia, and the U.S. and over 70 employees, the company recently received an international investment of over $10 million for the ongoing development of its intelligent dermatology solutions.