Lancaster health lab rolls out welcome mat

After taking a break during the Covid-19 pandemic to focus internally, a Lancaster-based venture formed by some of the region’s biggest players in health care is welcoming its first outside partner in nearly two years:  SkinIO, a Chicago-based company using technology to broaden access to dermatology screenings.

People can use the SkinIO app to take pictures of their skin and get feedback from a dermatologist (photo/submitted).
  • SkinIO is working with Lancaster’s Smart Health Innovation Lab to roll out a pilot of its technology: a smartphone app that people can use to photograph their skin and then submit the pictures for a dermatologist to review and recommend follow-up care, if needed.
  • The lab is backed by Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Capital Blue Cross, Lancaster-based investment firm Aspire Ventures and Lancaster-based digital health company Clio Health
  • The goal is to put SkinIO’s technology in the hands of at least 1,000 adults over 18 from the ranks of Capital Blue members, according to Kim Ireland, CEO of the innovation lab.
  • The pilot will help SkinIO figure out how best to engage the app’s potential users Ireland said, noting that the cost to members will be free during the trial run, which is slated for this spring.

Why dermatology: Leaders of the innovation lab identified the specialty as a focus area even before the pandemic, Ireland said.  

  • “Nationally, there’s not enough dermatologists … to treat everyone that needs to be seen,” Ireland said. “We felt this was a good fit for a technology solution.”
  • SkinIO was identified as a partner last year after the lab sent out requests for information to a number of companies, Ireland said.
  • The SkinIO app could help catch skin problems before they become more serious, Ireland said.
  • While employers and insurers may spend more on screenings, the goal is to avoid more expensive care down the road and thus reduce overall costs, Ireland said.

What’s next: That will be determined after the initial pilot, expected to last several months, Ireland said.

  • The partners could conduct another test or roll out the app commercially, as happened with a previous innovation lab partner, NeuroFlow. The Philadelphia-based company now offers its technology to Capital Blue members as a self-screening tool for depression.
  • The innovation lab — which helps to commercialize new health care products — also is gearing up to recruit new partners. 
  • Its next areas of focus include musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain, and women’s health, Ireland said.
  • The pandemic, meanwhile, has opened up patients and providers to tech-based solutions.
  • “It’s a huge opportunity, not just in dermatology but in other offerings,” Ireland said. “And I think consumers are ready to be empowered and take charge of their health care.”

-by Joel Berg, editor of biznewsPA

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