In many areas the wait time to see a dermatologist can span weeks or even months, leaving those with acute or chronic skin conditions frustrated. YoDerm is trying to change that. For a fee of $59, patients can submit skin problems and upload photos through an online platform, receive a consultation from a board-certified dermatologist, and have a prescription sent to their local pharmacy – in less than 24 hours.
The idea for YoDerm stemmed from co-founder and CEO Ben Holber’s personal experiences. Growing up, he had chronic acne and was unhappy with the “pretty traditional experience” of scheduling difficulties and months-long waits. This was in stark contrast to his friend Ryan Hambley, now co-founder and Chief Product Officer at YoDerm, whose father was a dermatologist and therefore received constant advice and ongoing care. “We actually met in the sixth grade,” Holber recalls. “So our picture days are longitudinal studies on what quality care in derm can do.”
They used those photographic insights, along with a few conversations with Hambley’s father, to learn more about diagnosing skin conditions through photos. This led to more research, more testing, and a pilot program with local dermatologists in Monterey, California, where the company is now based.
That was in 2012. In the last five years, YoDerm has hosted 40,000 consultations and now has a dozen dermatologists on the platform, with a wait list for more.
That wait list is likely due to the platform’s high appeal to dermatologists, who can take consultations on their own time and without sacrificing in-clinic work. “We have some physicians that get up in the morning and complete their queue of patients then,” Holber says. “We have some physicians that will complete their consultations at their lunch hour or [during] in-between times in the clinic.”
Of course, YoDerm’s convenience extends to the other side as well. By shifting the entire process of a traditional doctor’s visit to an online platform, patients are more apt to seek treatment. In fact, the vast majority of YoDerm patients have never seen a dermatologist before.
A major challenge for any health-related startup is addressing the regulations around healthcare and patient privacy. Luckily, the recent growth of telehealth has helped clear the way for companies like YoDerm. “We get to stand on the shoulders of giants,” Holber says, citing the many resources that now exist to help companies ensure compliance with health regulations.
As the seven-person team builds the core business, they’re also beginning to address another problem – the fact that patients often don’t make it to the pharmacy.
“In some cohorts, one in five patients wouldn’t even start their treatment plan,” according to Holber. “What’s the great benefit of a treatment plan if you can’t get the treatment?” To help solve this, YoDerm has been experimenting with home delivery of treatments. They currently offer Latisse, a product used to help eyelashes grow, and finasteride, an FDA-approved drug for male-pattern baldness, with more options in the works.
This, says Holber, is one step closer to his vision of “full-circle” care. And with online consultations, a growing network of patients and physicians, and now prescription treatment delivery, YoDerm seems to be quickly closing that circle.
Link: YoDerm website…