2012-09-14

Co.Exist

Vanquish Your Acne Over The Internet

A new tele-medicine startup lets you send a dermatologist pictures of your pimples, so they can prescribe you medication without the hassle of a doctor’s visit.

Josh Spanogle was a medical resident in dermatology at the Mayo Clinic when he noticed something disturbing: in many areas, three-month wait times are common for patients seeking dermatologist appointments. Some of these appointments are necessary, but there’s no reason why mild to moderate acne—an incredibly common issue, as any teenager (or former teenager) knows—can’t be treated remotely.

So Spanogle teamed up with his brother, a software developer, to create NoviMedicine—a platform that lets anyone suffering from acne get treatment from dermatologists without leaving the house. "My personal philosophy is that nobody should have to deal with acne, since for the vast majority of people there are good medications to control it," says Spanogle.

The startup, which recently graduated from health technology accelerator Rock Health’s first Boston class, has a fairly straightforward idea: Patients log onto the NoviMedicine website, answer questions about their acne and medical history, and upload photos of their acne. "All the information I’d capture in-office, I’m capturing in this visit," says Spanogle. All the data gets passed along to a dermatologist who evaluates the case, renders a decision, and recommends either over-the-counter medication or writes a prescription.

But anyone who needs Accutane, a controversial treatment for severe acne, will have to look elsewhere. "Because of the nature and risk of Accutane, we’re not going to be able to take care of folks who need that aggressiveness of treatment," explains Spanogle. "There really is value in seeing a physician for a lot of things."

Physicians will be paid for their NoviMedicine work on a case-by-case basis, and patients will be charged $59 for each visit. NoviMedicine will take a cut from each case. The service will launch first in California because of its telemedicine-friendly laws. Expect to see it go live in the late fall or early winter.

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