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Dermatology Times: Digital health and dermatology

(JANUARY 3, 2019) by Steve Xu, M.D., FAAD

What exactly is digital health? The scope and definition of digital health is broadening and now, it seems, digital health is essentially anything that isn’t a drug or traditional medical device. It encompasses hardware (mobile phones, wearable sensors), software (AI, machine learning, mobile phone apps), and digital communication platforms (telemedicine, text, email) to improve health.

For challenging rashes and inflammatory skin diseases, VisualDx released a consumer app in 2018 called Aysa that uses machine learning to identify inflammatory skin conditions and make preliminary recommendations for self-help and treatment. These innovations represent important examples of how digital health is impacting dermatology.

Read Dr. Xu’s full column on Dermatology Times.

Nakisha Wynn: Finally an App to Help with Those Rash Decision: Aysa!

by Nakisha Wynn

How many times have you looked at your kid and noticed a bump, bruise or mysterious rash out of nowhere? It’s happened to me more times that I care to admit, especially with four kids in the house. After seeing it, I usually run to Google and find myself panicking from the results I get. That turns into a wile ride to urgent care just for them to tell me it’s fine. Then there I am again, wishing I hadn’t wasted my time.

Well I won’t be doing that again! Thanks to Aysa.

Everything you need to know about the newest skin rash app: Aysa

The Aysa rash app and symptom checker identifies common skin conditions. Powered by VisualDx, Aysa will analyze your photo and provide immediate answers and guidance.

My oldest son and youngest daughter both suffer from eczema. If I don’t keep a close eye it can turn bad fast! During certain months I really have to stay on top of it. Being outside for little league football and the weather being colder than normal, the winter months usually cause their dry skin to be even drier. I used the Aysa rash app on my daughter to see if a dry patch on her back just needed moisturizer or if it indeed was her eczema flaring up. I was impressed with how easy it was to use.

Here’s how Aysa works:

  1. Snap a picture of the affected area on your skin.
  2. Answer a few questions about the symptoms.
  3. Aysa provides personalized guidance on what to do next.
  4. Take action on the reliable results. This can include self care, a call with a medical provider or help locating the closest specialist.

Aysa draws on the experience of 47,000 physicians and nurses and more than 137,000,000 health searches to be your trusted digital skin advisor. You can use it knowing that you are getting accurate information regarding your symptoms and make an educated decision based on that.

Aysa was impressive when I tried it on my teenagers skin too. My son is 14, plays all kinds of sports, and is at the peak age for acne! So I wanted to see what Aysa would say about the tiny bumps on his forehead. Imagine my surprise when it gave me the result of common acne. It said that acne was caused by hormonal changes, overgrowth of normal skin bacteria and the overproduction of natural oils. That was reassuring for my son, because I always joke that it’s from not cleaning his room. I need an app for that!

Oh all the times I couldn’t used this app in my life (insert weary face emoji). But when you know better you do better right?! Now I know the Aysa rash app has got me covered on all my skin concerns.

Aysa is available on iPhone and can be downloaded in the Apple Store.

Boston Moms Blog: Aysa – An App to Allay Your Child’s Skin Condition Woes

See How Aysa Works

by Jenny Berk

We love apps. My kids have Twisty Road, Boggle, Helix Jump, and their favorite, 2048.

But they were a bit perplexed when I downloaded an app for them – for all of us, really – about skin care.

Yep, there is an app for all things skin conditions. It’s like a dermatological dream! Except I learned early on that my littles don’t have the same fascination about all things medical, especially gross skin medical stuff, that I do. Don’t get me wrong, they love to tell me about all their various bug bites, blisters, rashes, and random marks, but they just don’t want to see it and talk about it UP CLOSE.

I was excited to try Aysa because it seemed like the perfect little accessory to my daily dose of checking my kiddos’ skin stuff. I finally had an answer to their daily question. “Mommy, what is this red itchy blotch on my wrist?” “Well, honey, let’s take a picture through Aysa and find out!”

First up was my daughter Mira. She has had a few little bumps near her eyes for a while. I’ll save the reader the gory details like the pus on the top of each bump. We can leave that for another day. I knew, from sending her to the MD a while back, that it was molluscum contagiosum but wanted to test out the super skin sleuthing of Aysa.

Sure enough, Aysa got the diagnosis correct!

The cool thing about this app is that you only have to take a picture of the affected area and then you answer a few questions (such as whether it’s itchy, what color it is, and if there is an associated fever or other symptoms). Then the app gets to work through machine learning and its deep knowledge base. When the results come in, the app shows you several options of what it could be, and the user picks which it is closest to based on photos and associated symptoms. You can set up user profiles for each person in your household.

Obviously, one should not use this app to diagnose, and the company is clear about following up with a professional MD to get a proper diagnosis. But it actually helps reduce some anxiety about what it COULD be. As a former WebMD user, I know it’s easy to get frightened by all the would-bes and what-ifs.

All in all, I thought it was a very well designed and user-friendly app with the possibility for daily use, depending on your family’s own level of hypochondriasis. I kid, I kid.

I created “case studies” for all three of my girls, and we had a lot of fun with it. Two of my girls loved researching the myriad skin conditions Aysa provides info about. (My middle daughter, who, much like her father, gets queasy looking at anything medical, looked a little nauseous when prurigo nodularis popped up as the first option. She almost dry heaved upon gazing at photos of congenital melanocytic nevus and actually ran to her room after seeing what lichen simplex chronicus was all about.)

While I recognize my girls probably won’t end up being dermatologists when they grow up, we enjoyed the process and will definitely continue to use the app – for the whole family.

I’ll just refrain from showing them the results.

(The app is currently available for free download at vdxaskaysaprod.wpengine.com or through your app store on your iPhone.)

AI holds great promise for visual fields like dermatology, but faces many challenges

See How Aysa Works

by Jonah Comstock (NOVEMBER 14, 2018)

Computer vision has great promise for helping to democratize fields like wound care, dermatology and more. However, as companies explore this potential, they’re also discovering a number of challenges to overcome.

Companies like VisualDx, which have a robust dataset from years in the CDS space, have to balance patient privacy consideration. “In our professional tool, when a doctor takes a pictures of a patient the image is analyzed on the phone and the image is dumped,” CEO Art Papier told MobiHealthNews. “So we never see the image because of confidentiality. So I think on the consumer side there’s an opt-in where the user can click a box where they say they’re willing to train data and can create a feedback loop and start training the system. We’ll be getting going with that this year.”

Learn more about the challenges AI face in the healthcare space by reading the full MobiHealthNews article.

MobiHealthNews: VisualDx launches Aysa, a consumer-facing dermatology app

Clinical decision support tool maker VisualDx officially launched Aysa, its first consumer-facing app, last month at Health 2.0 in San Francisco. The app allows users to upload pictures of skin lesions or rashes, enter some additional information about themselves and receive suggestions of what condition they might have and what actions to take next.

“We argue we’ve developed the world’s best professional medical image collection of skin, and that know-how that we used to develop VisualDx is now leverage for a consumer-facing tool,” CEO Dr. Art Papier told MobiHealthNews at the show last month. “It’s all based on the same data. So the new product, called Aysa, was just launched in the app store in conjunction with this meeting. It’s basically your copilot as a person when you have a skin problem. Eventually it’s going to grow into other areas, as VisualDx grew into other areas.”

The app will be free for an introductory period, and then sold for $1.99. The app is not intended to be a diagnostic tool, but it does give users options after giving them information about their probably condition. Currently, users can select “Prevention and Self-Care” for links to buy over-the-counter-remedies from Walmart. But VisualDx intends to add other stores, as well as links to initiate a telemedicine visit or find an in-person clinic.

What’s the impact

A lot of startups are starting to offer mobile tools like this to serve as “first lines of defense” for concerned consumers. Dermatology is a particularly attractive area for this because of a national shortage of dermatologists. VisualDx stands out as a company that’s moving from provider-focused clinical decision support into the consumer world, which should lend it more credibility to its platform.

Papier argues that services like this are crucial, even acknowledging their limitations, because people are already looking online for medical answers, so they might as well have the best ones possible.

“We know that everybody searches Google with their symptoms or they go to WebMD and use a symptom checker,” he said. “So the real question is how do you develop something that’s an educational symptom checker that’s safe? The art of this is to do a better job of educating so people know on a weekend, do I need to run to urgent care on a weekend, or can I get some better information that will help me make some decisions and then I’ll see the doctor later if necessary.”

Aysa also makes use of CoreML, a relatively new Apple feature that allows companies to run machine learning algorithms directly on the phone rather than in the cloud. VisualDx was even name-dropped by Tim Cook on a recent investor call as an example of the feature’s potential impact in healthcare.

Finally, VisualDx’s extensive database allows it to address the problem of racial disparities in digital dermatology access.

“One of the things we’re really proud of at VisualDx is for the last 18 years we’ve been cataloguing the spectrum of disease in people of all colors,” Papier said. So the goal of Aysa is to give a really unique experience to someone, if they have light skin or dark skin. We give them a very custom experience.”

What is the trend

Partly because of machine learning, dermatology apps, popular in the first wave of mobile health apps, are making a comeback. MobiHealthNews catalogued this trend, and gave some examples of companies in the space, in an In-Depth back in July.

MedCity News: VisualDx’s new app lets users check skin conditions using AI

by Erin Dietsche, MedCity News (SEPTEMBER 20, 2018)

VisualDx, a Rochester, New York-based company that designed a clinical decision support tool for doctors, has expanded its innovative thinking to the world of consumers.

At the Health 2.0 conference earlier this week, it launched its first app geared aimed at consumers: Aysa, an artificial intelligence-powered tool that lets people learn about their skin conditions.

The app is trained via VisualDx’s platform, which brings together medical expertise and a database of over 120,000.

In a recent phone interview, Rory Burrill, VisualDx’s vice president of business development and general manager of consumer health strategy said his company saw its platform and know-how as a valuable resource that could assist others.

Read the full article here.

The Mommyhood Chronicles: Aysa – Amazing App to Help You Figure Out Skin Conditions!!

Aysa iOS Splash

by Melissa

There used to be a commercial on TV that I’d see pretty consistently, where women were calling their moms to ask questions about how to make doctors appointments, how long to cook food for, etc. Every time I’d find myself relating deeply with those women because I’ve been there. I’ve called my mom to ask her every question under the sun; questions ranging from medications, dry cleaning, recipes and more. Whenever a question popped us that I didn’t have the answer to or was unsure about, I always thought about my mom because, to me, she knew everything.

There was no doubt in my mind that my mom would always have the answers for me, so, as a parent myself it doesn’t surprise me that my children think along those same lines. Their questions are a little less complex than the ones I’ve asked my own mom but nonetheless I feel like I’m a constant source of knowledge where my kids are concerned. That is, unless it has anything to do with ailments related to the skin. When it comes to anything like rashes, bumps, or even allergic reactions, Google has always been my go-to…that is, until recently when I became a tester for an app called Aysa.

As far as apps go, Aysa is still in its early stages. With the official launch that just happened, I couldn’t be more excited to help promote such an incredibly helpful piece of technology. How is it helpful? Well, allow me to introduce to my readers to the consumer facing symptom checker app that is changing the diagnosis game. What that means is that Aysa is able to help people, who have absolutely no medical background, diagnose common skin problems without having to see a doctor. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to be seen in the future, but it does mean that Aysa can help identify a problem as well as help figure out IF you need to be seen or how to treat it at home if a doctor’s visit isn’t needed.

The app can help with more than 200 different kinds of skin conditions, including those such as psoriasis, poison ivy, hives, and more. It can also give you tips on whether or not an over the counter medicine is going to be of help to you of if you should in fact make a call to your doctor. In recent studies, it has been shown that up to 80% of internet users search for health care topics online, however it has also been proven that up to 50% of symptom checkers that are used consistently turn up as being wrong – and this is where Aysa comes into play.

Thanks to the apps clinical data and image library, Aysa is able to help you identify the problem more readily than ever. While it isn’t considered a tool that is able to actually “diagnose” the issue, the app can help guide users to help them know how to proceed once a more accurate idea of what skin issue has occurred is narrowed down.

Using the app is simple and quick, so you can avoid panic and undue stress while trying to figure out if you’ve come into contact with poison oak/ivy, if you’ve developed hives due to an unknown allergy, etc. All the user has to do is take a picture of the effected area and Aysa will take it from there, using access to knowledge from more than 47,000 nurses & physicians, and 137,000,000 health searches to help you better understand the underlying issue. You can interact with the app, answering questions about the ailment, your age and more, use it to refine your results and then figure out your next step – all without the internet telling you you have an incurable disease and rushing yourself to the nearest emergency department!

For users, especially parents who are prone to think the worst, Aysa is the latest lifesaver in the tech world. It’s fast, easy to use and provides piece of mind in a matter or mere minutes. I highly recommend this app to my readers. After all, who couldn’t use a little more piece of mind, especially when it comes to things like getting answers to questions about your health?

You can download Aysa from the App Store now, and to keep yourself up to date with all of the latest information about Aysa, you can visit them online or become a follower of their social media sites like Facebook & Twitter. You definitely won’t regret giving them a like to see how Aysa can help you & your loved ones!

Dallas Moms Blog: A Skin Rash App that Won’t Keep You Guessing: a Review of Aysa

by Jessica Foy

As parents, we all have fretted over a mysterious rash that’s developed on our child’s skin. You know the questions that run through your mind … Is this serious? Do we have to go to the doctor? Can we just treat this at home, or is my child’s leg going to fall off if we don’t go to the doctor?

If I gave you a dollar for every time I’ve consulted the Internet for one of my children’s skin rashes, you’d probably be able to quit your day job and retire early.

Luckily for us (and my wallet), the brilliant makers of Aysa created an app that assesses you or your child’s symptoms and guides you in the right direction.

Here’s what I like most about the app:


The app is quick to download and setup, allowing you to immediately access the tools to assess a rash or skin condition. My daughter had a mysterious rash on her knee, so I followed the app’s directions by taking a picture of it and answered a few questions. Aysa then analyzed the photo and helped me narrow down what it could be. While it does not diagnose, it definitely steers you in the right direction. It worked well for us!


The app allows you to easily keep track of you or your child’s “case.” (That is how it’s listed in the app). The questions asked about a particular picture you submit are tailored to the individual, making it more accurate and reasonable. It’s also important to note that the pictures and information you submit never leave your phone, keeping your privacy secure.


My husband is a pediatric resident and uses the parent app of Aysa, VisualDx. After showing him Aysa, his take on it is that this is a great resource for his patients to use as a guide.

The app is built from the experience of more than 47,000 physicians and nurses, and more than 137,000,000 health searches. It is NOT a skin cancer detection app or prevention tool, but rather gives guidance on what to do for a set of 200 common skin problems.

Overall, I would highly recommend this app for parents. Aysa is a fast, easy and personalized tool to help with those pesky skin rashes and conditions.

You can download the app today, and visit Aysa’s website to learn more.

Charleston Moms Blog: The Aysa App; Identifying Skin Conditions From Anywhere

by Sydney Mcleod-Bryant Barnett

Every mom’s worst fear can be brought to life at the touch of a button. A mere bug bite is all of a sudden the mumps; a typical skin rash like psoriasis somehow became a flesh-eating bacteria. As moms, I think we can all relate to the feeling of panic when seeing a weird rash suddenly appear on our child’s skin. Obviously, a visit to the doctor about anything suspicious is always warranted, but often times we leave there still confused about this strange new rash. Or what about when it pops up over the weekend, and it doesn’t seem to necessitate a trip to the after-hours doctor’s office?

Introducing Aysa

These are the things that the developers of the app Aysa had in mind when creating a user-friendly app that checks symptoms with the use of VisualDx, a clinical decision support system. Using the simple steps seen below and your mobile device, you can find peace of mind with how to proceed.

  1. Take a picture of the affected area.
  2. Setup a profile for the person (child or adult) who has the affected area and answer a few questions to help Aysa identify the problem (this includes the location of the affected area and the length of time that the condition has been present).
  3. Once Aysa has your results, you can then use the pictures to help further identify the condition and from there find ways to self-treat the area as well as determine when you should see a doctor.

Testing out the app

A few of our Charleston Moms Blog team members, including myself, had the opportunity to test out this new app and offer our honest opinions.

  • Meredith tested the app trying to identify six different skin conditions. She was impressed that Aysa correctly identified psoriasis, sun spots, molluscum contagiosum, and bug bites. However, it was not able to identify a jellyfish sting and an unknown scalp bump.
  • Tiffany was admittedly a little apprehensive about using the app saying “I’ve been from doctor to doctor over the years and it took time to get a diagnosis, only to find out within the last month it was wrong.” But once she started using the Aysa app, Tiffany says, “I was impressed with how easy it was to use. All I had to do was take a picture of my rash, answer a series of questions about the appearance and symptoms I was experiencing, and the app was able to give me several findings for what the problem might be.” And the best part for Tiffany? That it was ACCURATE the first time, after years of misdiagnosis!
  • When I tested it, I was also able to get it to correctly identify psoriasis, bug bites, and allergic contact dermatitis. What I really appreciate about the app is not only how easy it is to use, but that once you have identified the particular skin condition, that Aysa doesn’t just leave you hanging. They help you identify your “Next Steps”, which include OTC remedies with pictures of the items and where to buy them. If the skin condition is more serious than a bug bite, then Aysa will also list medicines that the doctor might prescribe to you and when you should go see a doctor.

Would we recommend Aysa?

Overall there are mixed reviews about the Aysa app from our testers that tried it. Meredith isn’t sure when she would personally need to use an app like this but can see it being useful for a friend that has a family full of highly allergic people. A friend of hers, who is also a surgical nurse, commented that she could see the Aysa app being a potentially useful tool in the hospital setting.

I, on the other hand, would not only recommend the app to others, but would use the Aysa app myself! It may not be something that I use on a daily basis but would definitely turn to whenever someone in my family had a skin condition that I couldn’t regularly identify. I also think it would be useful to learn about different home remedies for skin conditions that I am more familiar with. I really appreciate the ease at which this app has in identifying different conditions and weeding out results that are not applicable.

Tiffany highly recommends Aysa as well, even if you don’t suffer from a chronic rash. It takes the guesswork out of identifying skin conditions and gives you solid advice in minutes. It’s worth the piece of mind, and the storage space on your phone.

VisualDx Launches Aysa for Consumers to Check Skin Conditions Using AI

Aysa brings peace of mind in 4 easy steps.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept 17, 2010/PRNewswire/ — Today, VisualDx, the leading diagnostic clinical decision support tool for physicians, unveiled its first app geared at consumers, Aysa, at the Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara. Aysa, an AI-driven smart symptom checker app, allows consumers to become more educated and make more informed decisions about their personal skin conditions. Aysa is trained through the VisualDx platform which combines clinical search and medical knowledge from experts with a database of more than 120,000 of the best medical images in the world.

In 2017, the average wait time in metro areas to see a dermatologist for a routine skin exam was 32 days. Using machine learning, Aysa is able to provide real-time results for skin photos taken in the privacy of a consumer’s home.

Skin rashes, which can range from annoying but benign to a sign of a serious condition, can look different on different skin types, even if they are the same condition. From psoriasis to eczema to herpes, skin conditions come in different shapes, sizes and severity. By simply taking a photo of one’s skin condition and answering a few questions, Aysa is able to generate a few possible answers in addition to next steps whether for self-care measures or for a visit with a health care provider.

“Aysa is a terrific tool to help narrow down a list of potential skin diagnoses. I recently had a large red spot on the area around my thumb and was concerned since I didn’t know what it could be,” said Jennifer, an early beta tester of the app, who lives in Boston. “With the help of Aysa, I was able to take a picture of the spot, answer a few questions and review some of the possibilities. Turns out the spot was something called a lime rash that I had gotten from squeezing limes a few days prior. Aysa correctly identified the rash on my hand and put my mind at ease before visiting a dermatologist. It was intuitive, easy to follow and a lot faster than what I normally do by searching the internet.”

VisualDx, the developer of Aysa, is a physician-led company with a deep knowledge base and understanding of dermatology making it uniquely qualified to bring this app to market. The company is introducing Aysa as a way to augment health research, but not replace the role of a clinician. In doing so, Aysa does not diagnose yet it is able to generate potential diseases and next steps for individuals with common skin conditions, thanks to the power of its world-class medical image library and the use of Apple’s CoreML, a framework designed to speed up machine learning tasks on the iOS operating system.

Because it is developed for iOS-based devices, Aysa can adjust its results based on a user’s medical history, thereby truly customizing the experience further for users. Because Apple enables users to aggregate existing health records from participating providers in the Apple Health app on iPhones, apps like Aysa and others, can interact with existing data with a user’s permission.

“Industry data suggests that nearly 80 percent of internet users haves searched for a health-related topic online, however 50 percent of the time these searches produce inaccurate information,” said Dr. Art Papier, CEO of VisualDx. “Consumers in the U.S. deserve better and Aysa can provide peace of mind by serving as the foundation for a productive visit to the doctor’s office. We want people to use their smartphones to get the right answers when they need it most, and for the answers to be drawn from the professional knowledge of physicians.”

Aysa, which will cost $9.99 for a one-year subscription, can be downloaded in the Apple App Store. For a limited time, new users can download Aysa free of charge. An Android version of Aysa is currently under development. For more information, visit www.vdxaskaysaprod.wpengine.com.

VisualDx is an award-winning diagnostic clinical decision support system and a standard electronic resource at medical schools and in hospital and clinic settings. VisualDx combines clinical search with a database of more than 120,000 of the best medical images in the world, plus medical knowledge from experts to help with diagnosis, treatment, self-education, and patient communication. Expanding to provide diagnostic decision support across general medicine, VisualDx brings increased speed and accuracy to the art of diagnosis. Learn more at www.visualdx.com.