Design of a Low-Cost Dermascope for Resource-Poor Settings

Jenna Johnstone, Brian Bacik, Shannon Burke, Rachal Dzombak, and Khanjan Mehta

IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference

Johnstone, J., Bacik, B., Burke, S., Dzombak, R., Mehta, K., “Design of a Low-Cost Dermascope for Resource-Poor Settings,” IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, San Jose, CA October 2013


Skin diseases in developing countries receive little attention when compared with well-known killers such as HIV/AIDS, pneumonia and tuberculosis. In communities with few doctors and even fewer dermatological specialists (if any), Community Health Workers (CHWs) are charged with meeting the needs of these at-risk populations. However, skin diseases can be difficult to assess by CHWs and often signify larger underlying problems. Teledermatology is being increasingly employed as a means of remotely assessing and diagnosing skin ailments. Typical commercially-available dermascopes cannot withstand the harsh conditions of developing countries and there is a need for inexpensive and ruggedized dermascopes for resource-constrained settings. This paper presents the design and field-testing results for a dermascope intended for use in rural Kenya as a part of an operational telemedicine system. Though the design faced challenges with ambient light, material availability, and camera mobility, the final prototype produced images deemed acceptable for diagnosis by Kenyan clinicians.


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