An easy-to-use tool, DermaDL, that can accurately diagnose skin cancer (and other conditions that may develop into cancer) will help save the lives of thousands of people. Our platform diagnoses skin disease and obtains verified medical information at no cost to patients, making it a powerful tool that can impact a large number of Americans. By creating a search engine that only shows trustworthy sources, and an analysis tool that verifies the accuracy of any article, our tools will help stop the spread of misinformation.

Older and working-class demographics are more likely to have difficulty finding the information they need or understanding complex medical terminology. Our search tool makes it easy to access medical information, while our analysis tool generates keywords and a non-technical summary to make online resources accessible to all.

 

What inspired you (or your team)? 

We were shocked to learn that 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer each day (more than all other cancers combined), and that 7,500 Americans die each year from melanoma. Early diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer can mitigate its impacts and reduce the risk of death. In fact, the 5-year survival rate of melanoma is 99% when the disease is detected early on, but drops to just 22% when diagnosed in later stages. An easy-to-use tool like DermaDL that can accurately diagnose skin cancer (and other conditions that may develop into cancer) will help save the lives of thousands of people.

Another one of our goals was to make the plethora of medical information available on the internet accessible to patients. While plenty of resources can be accessed online, plenty of misinformation also exists. Researchers at MIT found that “falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information”. This spreading of misinformation can have enormous detriments. For example, the myth that vaccinations cause autism harms not only the patient, but also their family, friends, and anyone they come in contact with. When lives are at stake, all information needs to be verified to ensure that patients do not take actions that inadvertently hurt their health or those around them. By creating a search engine that only shows trustworthy sources, and an analysis tool that verifies the accuracy of any article, our tools will help stop the spread of misinformation.

We also realize that many individuals, especially older and working-class patients, may not have access to or cannot afford professional medical advice. Forbes quantifies that 44% of Americans don’t visit doctors because they can’t afford to pay, and the NIH found that diagnosing melanoma costs over $10,000 per patient.