We might not be living in the metaverse quite yet, but Brits are spending more time in online spaces than ever before. 73% of us use social media daily, we each spend over 3 hours a week on video calls, and video sharing platform TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2022. This means that we are also spending a lot of time staring at faces on screens, a fact that is driving a surge in demand for specialist, on-demand treatment for an array of dermatological conditions. With traditional models of dermatology care failing to meet the needs of patients and providers, a new breed of digital dermatology providers are transforming the skincare landscape.
‘Bad’ skin days are nothing new, but the ubiquity of the Zoom call, the selfie, and the ultra high-resolution camera have made us hyper-conscious of the state of our own complexion and the complexions of those around us. 88% of workers recently surveyed admitted to worrying about their appearance during video meetings, explaining the popularity of Zoom’s ‘touch up my appearance’ feature. We’re bombarded with edited pictures of influencers with perfect skin, and adverts for ‘miracle’ products with unintelligible ingredients. All things considered, it is unsurprising that the demand for expert advice and accessible medical guidance is soaring.
When it comes to skin-related concerns, the traditional GP-first route to treatment can be frustrating and very slow. The wait for appointments and referrals is long, specialists often unavailable, and the treatment options limited. Meeting the demand for an alternative are a rapidly-growing group of vertically integrated micro-providers (VIMPROs): digital healthcare providers focused on delivering an end-to-end service to a specific patient group, characterised by excellent user experience and personalised clinician-led care; typically offering diagnostics, prescribing, and treatment.
Dermatology VIMPROs are scaling quickly, attracting new patients with the promise of consultations with specialist dermatologists and secure photo sharing. The global online dermatology consultation market is projected to hit around USD 9.7 billion by 2030, and VIMPROs are joining the dots for patients by adding seamless prescription and direct-to-door medication delivery to their platforms. In just a matter of days, patients can now access the support and treatments they need to achieve selfie-ready skin.
But digital dermatology is not just improving aesthetic skin care outcomes. Patients with suspected cancers, worrying lesions and painful eczema are also benefiting from access to online specialist care. For example, symptoms such as unexplained rashes and growing moles must be assessed and treated as quickly as possible or risk causing serious harm to the patient. Digital dermatology services allow patients to access this treatment, which they might have put off or waited weeks for otherwise. In addition, the remote and discrete nature of the service removes barriers of shame or embarrassment that might prevent patients from accessing treatment.
The rapid scaling of UK dermatology VIMPRO Skindoc is evidence of strong demand and faith in the digital dermatology sector. Founded by two dermatologists in 2020, Skindoc offers virtual consultations and treatments for conditions such as acne and eczema, and also provides outsourcing services to the NHS. In 2022, they were acquired by Norwegian private healthcare provider Dr Dropin, as part of their mission to expand instant health care access at affordable and fixed price points across Europe. Phlo Connect has been partnered with Skindoc since 2022, enabling them to offer a quick and secure digital pharmacy service to their users.
It is ironic that although society is speeding towards a metaverse-mediated future, the state of our IRL (in real life) skin is an ever-more-pressing priority for Brits. And, as our expectations from healthcare services change, the success of digital dermatology will hinge on the ability of providers to deliver a friction free, rapid and safe service that will win them a loyal customer base.
However, dermatology's digital transformation is being pushed and pulled by our increasingly complex relationship with health services, technology and social media, it’s incredibly encouraging to see providers and patients already reaping the benefits.
To learn more about how Phlo Connect works with digital dermatology providers like Skindoc, get in touch with a member of our team.