The long distances rural populations have to travel to receive healthcare services, specifically subspecialist services, is a barrier to sufficient care. Teledermatology has helped to narrow this gap, where photos are able to be sent in for diagnosis of skin conditions by doctors in urban settings. However, the limitations of this technology (including the inability to conduct a full skin examination, perform a biopsy, or provide follow up care) still result in many patients requiring to be seen by a dermatologist in person.
We hope to start by complimenting this already available services such as teledermatology to improve access to care. For example, patients with dermatological emergencies are not able to be triaged effectively with the current teledermatology service, resulting in delayed access to services with the potential to significantly improve care. By enhancing the on call services and transportation of specialists between cities and rural areas, we hope rural populations can receive reliable care.
One important component is enhancing the knowledge of skin diseases affecting rural and indigenous communities is building a repository of dermatological conditions which are unique to the climate, environmental exposure, and genotype of rural populations. As well, our current understanding of skin disease affecting indigenous populations is quite limited, and the data subsets we use for AI recognition of dermatological diseases are made from predominantly caucasian individuals. By building a database of the diseases affecting indigenous people while transporting dermatologists to provide care in these underserved regions, we hope to narrow this knowledge gap. Furthermore, education about sun safety and common disease management is an important component to empower local communities with the skills they need to improve their own health.
The potential impact and scalability for INLET is substantial, as we hope to obtain our private pilot license and build this repository of knowledge on rural, remote, and indigenous skin disease in Canada. Furthermore, Bryce has mentorship by Dr. Ali Moiin, the leading physician on skin of colour in America, and a true pioneer in the treatment of unique skin diseases affecting minority patients. By serving the communities both in person and by developing technology to facilitate recognition of minority patient skin disease, the scalability across rural Alberta and Canada is endless.