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Expanding Personalized, Data-Driven Dermatology: Leveraging Digital Health Technology and Machine Learning to Improve Patient Outcomes


The current revolution of digital health technology and machine learning offers enormous potential to improve patient care. Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize that dermatology requires an approach different from those of other specialties. For many dermatological conditions, there is a lack of standardized methodology for quantitatively tracking disease progression and treatment response (clinimetrics). Furthermore, dermatological diseases impact patients in complex ways, some of which can be measured only through patient reports (psychometrics). New tools using digital health technology (e.g., smartphone applications, wearable devices) can aid in capturing both clinimetric and psychometric variables over time. With these data, machine learning can inform efforts to improve health care by, for example, the identification of high-risk patient groups, optimization of treatment strategies, and prediction of disease outcomes. We use the term personalized, data-driven dermatology to refer to the use of comprehensive data to inform individual patient care and improve patient outcomes. In this paper, we provide a framework that includes data from multiple sources, leverages digital health technology, and uses machine learning. Although this framework is applicable broadly to dermatological conditions, we use the example of a serious inflammatory skin condition, chronic cutaneous graft-versus-host disease, to illustrate personalized, data-driven dermatology.

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