Date Awarded: November 10, 2011
CHCF invests in DirectDerm, a telemedicine group that provides remote dermatology consultations, expanding access to expert, convenient, and affordable specialty care. Skin problems account for about 25% of all visits to primary care physicians. For many of these visits, the patient and physician would benefit from a consultation with a dermatologist, but the current shortage and geographic maldistribution of dermatologists often prevents or delays these necessary consultations.
To address this problem DirectDerm (formerly Direct Dermatology) offers a web-based, HIPAA-compliant technology platform that enables same-day and next-day consultations by US board-certified dermatologists. Using a store-and-forward telemedicine model, referring providers receive assistance with the diagnosis and management of skin diseases. Today DirectDerm contracts with health plans and IPAs, many of which are for rural and community clinic providers and patients.
In the video below, Dr. David Eibling, medical director at Health Plan of San Joaquin, discusses the need for telehealth solutions such as DirectDerm.
To use the service, clinics need only a digital camera, computer, and Internet connection. Patients can use DirectDerm services by visiting their primary care provider or by uploading images to the DirectDerm platform. In both cases patients receive a diagnosis and a prescription if needed.
In November 2011, CHCF made a seed investment of $240,000 in DirectDerm. In December 2012, CHCF invested an additional $500,000 to help the company provide greater access to teledermatology services throughout the state.
CHCF invested in DirectDerm because of the company’s impact and growth performance to date, and because the foundation sees enormous potential for telehealth solutions to improve access to and quality of medical care for patients in traditionally underserved areas of California.