You’ve surely heard of telemedicine by now, but what about one of its subsets, teledermatology? The field involves remote appointments with a licensed, board-certified dermatologist for everything from cystic acne to premature balding. Telehealth is making medical visits more accessible and affordable across the health sector, but its impact is particularly notable in the hair loss industry.
I have never had a telemedicine experience before the pandemic, and I doubt you did either. Of course, now it’s nearly the norm. In 2021, nearly 40 percent of American adults had at least one telehealth visit. This represents a major shift for the dermatology industry, which can now remotely provide consultations and prescriptions for tedious and stressful conditions.
Oftentimes, people experiencing hair loss do not have the time or the will to visit a dermatologist who may not specialize in hair. Many people feel that the time commitment of an in-person visit is only necessary for a potentially life-threatening condition. By making appointments online, patients can easily schedule a visit without the time commitment. That’s likely why the global teledermatology market size is projected to reach $27.7 billion by 2030, rising at a 15.2 percent CAGR during that period. Teledermatology is a big business, especially regarding hair loss treatment.
Alopecia, the clinical term for hair loss, affects 6.7 million people in the U.S. and two percent of the world’s population. Teledermatology is now helping people treat hair loss at home at a time when hair loss is on the rise globally, most prevalent in younger populations. With more patients to serve, hair-loss professionals can use telehealth services like Happy Head to cater to more people.
Putting Patients In Control
Teledermatology allows patients to connect with dermatologists anytime, anywhere in the US to remove roadblocks. Patients can seek advice at their convenience, putting them in control of when and how they manage their hair loss. Moreover, traditional dermatology appointments often involve long wait times. On average, patients can expect to wait 28.8 days for a traditional dermatology appointment, while the average wait time for a dermatology telehealth appointment is two days. Who wants to wait that long? Hair loss can significantly impact a person’s mental health.
Teledermatology services often integrate with custom subscription services, allowing patients to access personalized hair care products conveniently. These products can be customized to a patient’s genetics or family history, allowing patients to actively control their daily hair care routines. These dermatologist-prescribed solutions are then delivered to their door in discreet packaging.
Teledermatology also comprises apps and platforms that enable patients to monitor their hair growth progress, document changes, and track the effectiveness of treatments independently. This self-monitoring aspect empowers patients to actively participate in their care journey. It may even keep patients more engaged than monthly in-person visits. Patients who visit in person often fail to monitor their progress outside the clinic. Conversely, patients are more likely to feel likely to keep up with their treatments if they track their progress online and see results.
Mobile apps like Kesh.ai aid in this self-empowerment process and allow individuals to take control of their hair growth journey via data-backed tracking and community support. Patients can also find a robust community of people undergoing similar challenges and encourage and uplift each other. The more control they have over their hair loss journey, the better they feel. While many hair loss conditions are genetic, patients can significantly affect their outcomes through diet, exercise, and general lifestyle choices like lowering stress.
The Future of Teledermatology
Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been substantial technological advances that have streamlined and optimized video conferencing services. This is significant for the field of teledermatology, which relies heavily on visuals for diagnostics and treatments. Previous web and phone cameras lacked the definition to assess dermatological issues, from eczema to alopecia. Now HD cameras are the norm, along with video conferencing platforms that maximize image quality.
Then there’s AI, which is actively reshaping both technology and medicine. As AI algorithms advance, AI can precisely analyze images of the scalp and hair to help diagnose hair loss conditions. These algorithms are becoming increasingly sophisticated, aiding dermatologists in making accurate diagnoses remotely and suggesting treatments. They don’t need to touch the patient or see them in person to make accurate diagnoses and create effective treatment plans.
However, substantial technical and regulatory challenges still remain, especially as it pertains to subscription services for prescribed hair loss products. Due to HIPAA compliance, dealing in medical-grade hair loss products is substantially more difficult than your average retail subscription service. You can’t just use a Shopify store because of privacy obligations; the store must be custom-built with high compliance burdens and information security. That means teledermatology and related subscription services like Happy Head are innovating in a brand new space; hair loss services are building out of what should be a simple e-commerce experience and introducing out-of-the-box solutions in a complex, sophisticated industry.
With the latest technological advancements, people suffering from hair loss conditions can now effortlessly receive the solutions they need, tailored to them. They no longer need to make time-consuming and potentially stressful visits to a dermatologist. Instead, they can consult medical professionals specializing in hair growth from the comfort of their own home. Teledermatology is ultimately about empowering people to take control of their hair loss journey, even if regulatory hurdles remain.
Ben Katz is the CEO and co-founder of Happy Head, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Nursing, and then earned an MBA from the Wharton School. Ben is passionate about building digital businesses and simplifying consumer access to traditionally complex industries, such as healthcare. He co-founded Happy Head in 2021 along with two doctors who created their own proprietary prescription topical-hair-growth medicine. Specializing in hair growth only and offering fully customized treatments with every prescription, Happy Head provides more effective results, with fewer side effects, than other treatments on the market.
Prior to founding Happy Head, Ben built numerous successful online businesses in fintech, consumer products, and telemedicine. He was the founding CEO of Coveroo (provider of customizable phone cases), CARD.com (leading online bank with customizable Visa cards), and Haven Coliving (providing community building and wellness-focused affordable housing for millennials).