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Virtual Care For Concerning Moles

June 19, 2024
Piction Health

Many people with moles or other concerning spots are aware that they should get them checked frequently by a dermatologist, but other life demands make seeking proper care difficult. Having to take off time from work, arrange care for children or other family members, and wait months before a dermatologist is available for an appointment can make seeing a dermatologist in person infeasible. At Piction Health, we provide you with thorough virtual-first care at your convenience and evaluate any individual moles you find concerning. (Note: we don’t currently support full-body assessments. The information in this post applies to individual moles or spots brought to our attention.)

Piction Health allows patients to receive dermatology care within 48 hours in the comfort of their own home. But despite this convenience, some people might still be reluctant to entrust the diagnosis of a potentially deadly health condition like skin cancer to a telemedicine provider. Digital health is new to many of us, and patients understandably want to make sure that their doctors aren’t missing any signs that would be difficult to discern virtually.

Below, we’ll walk through the steps in the care delivery process for a Piction Health patient with a concerning mole. Here is the process we use so you understand how we deliver care at every step.

Step 1: Patient provides photos and case history

This step is the one that requires the most work on your part. We require at least three photos of the concerning spot at different distances. One should be a close-up image that provides fine-grained detail of the spot, one a farther away image that shows the spot’s context in the entire body, and one a medium-range image that combines some detail with some body context. It is very important to ensure that each photo is taken with good lighting (no flash) and isn’t blurry. The mole should be in focus in the close-up image (but be sure to turn off any portrait mode/blurred background effects on your phone’s camera). If the spot or mole is on your back or another body part that’s hard for you to capture directly, ask your partner or a friend to take the photos for you instead of submitting blurry photos.

Here are some examples of good photos of moles. Note that they all have good lighting, and the spot is clearly visible in the photo.

Another patient with basal cell carcinoma
Yet another patient with BCC. Note that someone is holding the patient’s hair back so that the mole is clearly visible.
A patient with a benign mole
A patient with two benign moles

In addition to requiring three or more photos of the same spot, we’ll ask you for more information about your mole’s history and your family’s history of skin cancer. The more information you can provide, the better. The dermatologist can estimate the risk of your mole being concerning more accurately with more knowledge of your particular history. It’s also a good idea to include information about your sun exposure (both current and past).

Step 2: Dermatologist diagnoses mole

Dermatologists seeing patients in person can use multiple senses to diagnose patients. In addition to looking at a patient’s mole with their naked eyes, they can palpate the mole and use a tool called a dermatoscope to magnify the mole, allowing a more granular visualization. Finally, if indicated, dermatologists can remove a small piece of the mole and send it off to a lab to get it biopsied.

While dermatologists performing virtual care may be limited from using these tools, they can reliably evaluate a patient with a mole or concerning spot using images alone more than 50% of the time. In these cases, you can receive your diagnosis from the comfort of your own home without having to take time off work or away from other responsibilities.

If you fall into the minority of patients to whom our dermatologists cannot provide a certain diagnosis, we will provide a timely in-person appointment for you with one of our dermatologists. A dermatologist in your area will prioritize seeing you so that you don’t have to wait months to get your mole diagnosed. Since the initial assessment has already been performed by a board-certified dermatologist, it is easier to get you in to be seen quickly. Your in-person dermatologist will work with you to decide on the most appropriate course of action.

Step 3: Patient receives diagnosis

Within 48 hours of submitting your case, you’ll find out whether your mole is clearly benign, or if you need to be referred for further follow-up care. You’ll need additional care if your mole is cancerous or if our virtual dermatologists couldn’t diagnose you via images alone. Click here to start receiving care today.