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PhotoExam app allows Mayo to securely document patient conditions

Last year more than 20,000 photos for more than 6,000 patients were taken by Mayo Clinic providers with Mayo’s PhotoExam app for iPhones and iPads.

Using the app, a provider takes photos or videos and uploads them to Mayo’s imaging systems for storage and viewing. As soon as the upload is complete, the photos and identifying information are automatically deleted from the device to protect patient privacy.

Mayo developed the PhotoExam app for dermatology use— to enable primary care providers to take photos of patients’ moles or new skin growths, and send them to Mayo dermatologists for immediate review and guidance about next steps.

“Getting fast access to a dermatologist can be difficult, and our primary care providers can handily treat many benign growths and moles,” says James Yiannias, M.D. (DERM ’92), Department of Dermatology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “They send us photos and inquire if the conditions are harmless. If they are, the primary care providers can provide treatment, and patients have their needs addressed quickly. If conditions are beyond the comfort zone of the primary care provider or the dermatologists want to see patients in person, specialty care visits can be scheduled.”

Of the teledermatology consultations provided by Mayo dermatologists in 2015, one-third to one-half of the cases were able to be treated by the primary care providers.

For dermatology photos, primary care providers use a special dermascope lens attachment on their phones, which provides greater detail than a standard camera phone photo.

The app, which was introduced in 2015, was so successful that its use spread throughout Mayo departments and locations. The photos are used to document patient conditions and their progression, compare before- and after-treatment images, and document skin lesions before biopsy.

Prior to the app, Mayo providers often relied on in-house photography to document conditions, but this service is only available in varying degrees at locations outside of the three main campuses. PhotoExam is immediately accessible by any Mayo provider anywhere. And, importantly, it is secure and safe, even on providers’ personal Mayo-approved devices.

Per Mayo Clinic policy, providers cannot use personal devices (phones, tablets) to take photos of patients’ conditions without using the PhotoExam app, which is secure and protects patient privacy. Patients must provide consent to be photographed before PhotoExam is used.


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