One of healthcare’s biggest challenges is providing patients with timely access to care, so it bothered Wong that some would be forced to wait for months before seeing a dermatologist. “These access problems diminish quality of care,” he says. “Melanoma is deadly and diagnosing it early can be the difference between life and death.” So in the age of smartphones with high-quality cameras, Wong did something about it: He co-founded Direct Dermatology, a telehealth company that taps top-notch dermatologists to treat patients from afar. “We knew we could leverage technology to get accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations,” he says.
For patients, it means access to the best dermatologists and with a degree of convenience that’s not usually associated with the US healthcare system. While Wong acknowledges that telehealth solutions aren’t new, he believes the field of dermatology was primed for disruption once employers and health plans starting hopping onboard in substantial numbers. And it doesn’t hurt that the Direct Dermatology model works. “We are able to manage more than 92% of our cases completely online,” he reports—and that, too, is good for the dermatology specialty. “As the number of people using telehealth increases, the wait time to see doctors in person will decrease.”