I come to the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference every year – the time of year that kicks off healthcare investments. It draws the investors looking for the next big health investment. There is everything from biotech, medical devices, pharma and digital health. I have always enjoyed the digital healthcare presentations and to get insights on what’s going to be the next company this year. The 2016 J.P. Morgan healthcare conference agenda includes back-to-back speeches from the top companies and thinkers in digital health. This is my 4th year at the conference. 

Background:

I am an internist and a digital healthcare entrepreneur at a larger hospital in New York City. The internet and the smartphone has helped democratize healthcare, the patient has a lot more choice than ever before and they can be more active in their own healthcare decisions. The vast amounts of health information on the internet has made the patient a “super patient”, they are better informed about their own health, but the information can also mislead the patient, thus it is important we physicians guide the patient in the right direction.

As an internist, I know my areas of expertise. I also know my limitations and when to ask help from specialists. This goes for my patients (referrals) and also for my own body.

My itchy skin rash on my neck.

JP-Morgan-Healthcare-Conference-2016-Rash-neurodermatitis
Funnily enough I have had an itchy patch on the back of my neck, just under my hairline for about a year now, I have not thought much of it. During my time at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this patch has become more itchy, which is probably due to the winter months. Today a doctor friend of mine brought it to my attention, when he saw me itching. He had a look and said it was a rather big patch that was scaling, he thought it could be psoriasis. He took a photo with his smartphone and showed it to me, and I was surprised how big it actually was. Since we were both not exactly sure of what it was and what the best treatment options would be, we decided to give the First Derm app a try. My friend downloaded the app and he took two focused images and filled in the short questionnaire and paid the $100 for the fast response. Within 3 hours I had the following answer in the app:

Based on the information and images submitted, this is possibly a NEURODERMATITIS: Neurodermatitis is a type of chronic inflammation of the skin. It commonly appears together with LICHENIFICATION (skin thickening, roughness), which is due to constant scratching of the skin. Neurodermatitis is caused by dry skin initially but made worse and chronic in combination with intensive scratching. The most important thing for you to do is avoid itching (which may be stress-related). Besides this, I would recommend that you also apply a steroid cream such as hydrocortisone 1% (sold over-the-counter) and apply this twice daily for a week to start with, then once daily for a week, then every other day for a few weeks. Moisturizing cream applied several times daily between applications with the steroid cream are also recommended. If at-home treatment is insufficient, you may need to see a physician who can prescribe a stronger steroid cream.

I went to the Walgreens on Powell street and bought some hydrocortisone over-the-counter. The itching went away immediately and now after 2 days applying the ointment the itchy patch was much better and the itching has seized.

This is what digital health is all about, as a regular Uber user, I felt I had the same experience with First Derm: an on demand dermatologist at my fingertips, it was fast, concise and the answer was professional that fixed my problem. Even as a medical doctor, I am now better informed about my own health issue by using digital health. A simple app with a big health impact that I can use anytime and anywhere.

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