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The DermR Patch

DermR health Solutions

The DermR Patch is a first-of-its-kind microneedle patch that quickly and effectively extracts skin cells pain-free. The sample can then be sent to a laboratory for analysis, with the results being a pre-screening for skin cancers.

March 2024

This month, we were fortunate to be invited to speak at the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund Open Day about our experience being part of The Challenge. 

During my discussion, I opened up about what The Challenge meant to me. Below are some of the insights I gained and shared at the open day.

For me, I see challenges as opportunities, opportunities to rethink how something has always been done, to question the status quo, and to simply not accept that something is too hard to change. I see challenges as a reason to push the boundaries of what's possible. And through this mindset, I believe any challenge can be overcome.

Speaking with clinicians in regional communities, we discovered that Pathology samples are transported via weekly mail-plane services, which can be affected by seasonal weather and other disruptions. This can lead to delays in samples reaching their destination for accurate testing. Additionally, residents of remote communities often relocate between different areas, posing challenges for conducting repeat tests or maintaining consistent testing conditions.

While this presents a challenge, I view it as an opportunity to explore how we can create a solution capable of preserving skin samples for extended periods, considering their reliance on mail-plane services.

We discovered that only doctors are authorised to perform skin biopsy procedures, which puts a significant strain on the already limited regional doctor network. During our site visits, we observed that doctors are available on-site only one or two days every few weeks. The rest of the time, healthcare facilities are staffed by dedicated nurses and allied health professionals.

Furthermore, we learned that dermatologists visit regional hospitals approximately once every four weeks, and appointments are heavily booked on those days. In some cases, patients face a waiting period of up to three years for treatment.

I think about opportunities to leverage the expertise of nurses and allied health professionals who are already part of the healthcare workforce. How can we integrate a pre-screening diagnostic solution that reduces the workload on already taxed GP and dermatologist resources? Ensuring that those who do need to be seen by a skilled specialist can get the appointments in a timely manner.

As a last example, in Aboriginal health centres, even in populated regions such as Port Hedland, I learned that patients with suspected skin cancers are referred for a biopsy from the location that they feel most comfortable to the local general hospital where they may not feel comfortable, creating hesitation.

For me, the question becomes: How can we provide Aboriginal health centres with tools to minimise referrals to other healthcare providers, reserving them only for confirmed cases of skin cancer?

While these ideas may seem ambitious, they underscore our commitment to embracing complexity and driving meaningful change in rural healthcare. As Chris Pickett, MC on the day, aptly put it, "We don't want more people; we want skills and techniques." This sentiment resonates with our mission to empower individuals, tap into existing workforces and give tools and knowledge as our take on reimaging rural healthcare.

This opportunity has not only granted us credibility but has also set off a chain reaction. What began as a proof-of-concept study in the Pilbara has now garnered attention from local and national media outlets, further validating the significance of our work in the Pilbara.

Next up… we have partnered with Hedland Health Campus to be our lead site for the patient trial. Stay tuned!

February 2024

Welcome to 2024! It's been an eventful start to the year for us, filled with exciting developments and national recognition.

In February, DermR Health put The Challenge in the spotlight with our CEO and Founder, Stefan Mazy, making a live appearance on Sunrise. Joined by none other than Natalie Barr, Stefan demonstrated the future of skin cancer screening, showcasing our innovative approach to detection.

Natalie summed up the experience perfectly when she remarked, "I don't feel anything."

This powerful endorsement underscores our mission, to transform skin cancer screening from a painful ordeal to a simple, accessible test, much like a routine COVID test.

We can’t take full credit for gaining this exposure without acknowledging everyone who has supported us on this journey so far, offering guidance and building connections that have propelled us to this pivotal moment.

We're especially grateful to the Department of Health, WACHS, and the FHRI Fund for their early recognition of our technology. Being selected as one of only ten finalists out of over a hundred global applicants to expedite our proof of concept has been a significant milestone for us.

As we prepare for our forthcoming trials in the Pilbara region, there is a growing anticipation surrounding our efforts. Our aim is not only to enhance rural healthcare through these trials but also to gather valuable insights through engagement that can allow us to scale our solution nationwide.

Stay tuned for more updates as we embark on this exciting journey together!

How does DermR Health’s skin cancer screening solution fit within the digital technology component of The Challenge?

Digitalisation in health care encompasses various facets, from enhancing telehealth access through satellite internet to implementing AI for optimised treatment protocols. Our contribution lies in transitioning skin cancer screening from analog to digital.

Traditionally, skin cancer detection has relied on histopathology, a labour-intensive process involving tissue cutting, slide preparation, microscopy, and manual analysis to identify cancerous cells. This method often faces delays due to workforce shortages and backlog issues.

Our approach involves embracing digital diagnostics, particularly genomics, to streamline workflows and accelerate turnaround times. By leveraging automation and algorithms, we aim to reduce labour requirements and increase efficiency. Additionally, telehealth services enable us to utilize existing infrastructure, ensuring that patients can access skilled professionals to interpret their results remotely. This shift from analog to digital promises improved accessibility, efficiency, and accuracy in skin cancer screening.

December 2023

These past few weeks have truly been a whirlwind for us. In November, we received an invitation to provide an update on our progress. We had the privilege of unveiling our latest DermR Patch iteration before an audience of nearly 200 people, which included Hon Stephen Dawson. This exciting unveiling marks a significant milestone, as this will be the design used in our upcoming Pilot Study set to commence in March 2024 (stay tuned for more details in our next update).

Following our progress update, we were deeply moved by the responses and feedback from the audience. I also want to thank them for allowing me to speak about my personal connection to starting this company.  For many, this was their first introduction to our groundbreaking skin cancer screening solution, and we were thrilled to receive fresh ideas about potential applications for our DermR Patch. The experience alone made the journey truly worthwhile.

But what made this journey truly exceptional was our venture into the Pilbara region, covering over 1100 kilometres in just three days to visit various healthcare sites. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that left an indelible mark on us. We bore witness to sights and stories that most people will never have the privilege to encounter, instilling in us a profound appreciation for the vastness of Australia and the unwavering resilience of rural healthcare systems and communities.

When we initially entered this competition, our application was packed with statistics, figures, and references. However, being on-site and spending three days collecting firsthand stories and insights provided us with a completely fresh perspective. It felt like a pilgrimage, and on the other side, we discovered a deeper sense of purpose as individuals and a renewed determination to bring the DermR Patch to the market.

One of the most eye-opening experiences was learning about how a simple blood test is conducted in many of the regional communities we visited. Mail planes would make a once-a-week trip to collect blood samples, which were then flown to Perth for testing. These insights were something that we, as Sydney city-dwellers, had never truly grasped. These stories provided us with a fresh perspective on how our solution could truly make a difference.

Meeting with the dedicated nurses, doctors, and allied health professionals left us deeply inspired by their unwavering commitment and resilience to want to improve the lives of their patients. Initially, we had doubts about the need for the DermR Patch when we first started the tour, but engaging with these healthcare teams and witnessing their enthusiasm for how our solution could enhance their workflow solidified our belief that we are indeed a worthy finalist in The Challenge.

Thanks to this enlightening visit and our invaluable on-the-ground experience, we forged partnerships with two esteemed healthcare facilities: Hedland Health Campus and Wirraka Maya Health Services. They will be joining us as we embark on our collaborative Pilot Study in March 2024. A warm and heartfelt welcome to our new teammates!

As we bid farewell to 2023, we hope that, in addition to following our journey updates, you have also been keeping up with our press and media releases. To our dear readers, we look forward to the possibility of meeting you during our visits to Western Australia. Together, let's continue this remarkable journey of innovation and healthcare transformation.

September 2023

Hello to all our followers! We can't believe how quickly August and September have come and gone. Here is an update on all things Team DermR.

Ethics applications

The last month saw us delve deep into finalising our ethics application, a pivotal step that will pave the way for our proof of concept. If you're unfamiliar with what this entails, it's a comprehensive document that outlines every tiny detail of our solution. From our clinical protocols and customer consent processes to an exhaustive safety overview, this application is designed to ensure our device poses no risks to patients.

Key collaborations

We're thrilled to announce that Panaceum Group will be spearheading this phase of our proof of concept. Panaceum Group is a leading healthcare provider in the Pilbara region. With a focus on a patient-centred care, they combine traditional medical practices with innovative approaches to meet the diverse health needs of their patients. Their services range from general practice to specialised healthcare solutions, ensuring that community members receive comprehensive care under one roof. Through their dedication to excellence and continuous improvement, Panaceum Group remains at the forefront of healthcare provision in the Pilbara region.

We will engage with most of our patients and practitioners through Panaceum Group, making them an integral part of our proof of concept.

In tandem, The Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) WA, our NATA-accredited genomics facility, will be the guardians of testing standards for the DermR patch solution. The AGRF is a leading genomics service provider that offers genomic solutions and expertise to the academic, clinical, and commercial sectors in Western Australia and nationally. They are known for their state-of-the-art facilities and capabilities in gene sequencing and bioinformatics, enabling cutting-edge research in health.

Next steps – awaiting approval

Before we can commence, an independent committee will meticulously review our ethics application. Their goal? To ensure that our solution is completely safe for its users.

But our journey with ethics applications doesn't end there. We believe in a comprehensive approach and are currently drafting a second application aimed specifically at engaging with indigenous communities via PAHA and WAAHEC.

Stakeholder engagement and the road ahead

While our application undergoes assessment, we're not sitting idle. Our team is fervently engaging with various stakeholders through interviews. This is all in a bid to grasp a deeper understanding of how DermR Health can truly revolutionise regional and remote health care and create a lasting positive impact on patients. Stay tuned, as we have more exciting updates to share in the coming month!

Did you know?

Ever wondered about the origins of our name, DermR Health? Here's a breakdown:
Derm = Dermatology

At our core, we're a MedTech Dermatological company. Our focus is on creating innovative, next-gen devices that harness the power of real-time genomics (RNA). Our mission is to improve early detection and targeted treatment for the most common cancers to reduce the burden of disease while also developing patient-friendly, non-invasive approaches to cancer screening and management.

Stay connected with us for more updates, and here's to reimagining the future of regional and remote health care together!

July 2023

We are thrilled to provide you with our first monthly update for The Challenge!  Our monthly updates will provide detailed insights into our project development and the milestones we reach.

July marked the commencement of an exhilarating chapter in DermR Patch's story unveiling our world-first, brand-new technology to screen for skin cancers without needing a biopsy, with the Pilbara region set to become the pioneers in trialling our solution.

We are sincerely grateful for the support and warm welcome extended by the Minister for Medical Research and Innovation, Stephen Dawson, and the vibrant community of Karratha as we attended the official launch.

Our plans for the next 12 months will be transformative and extend beyond the confines of implementing our technological innovation. Our ambitious goal is to also engage with at least 50 stakeholders, fostering an open dialogue and creating a strong foundation for progress. This engagement will allow us to gather invaluable insights and allow us to deeply understand the unique challenges these communities face, identify potential areas for improvement in our solution, and reaffirm the pressing need for our services.

To our readers, we invite each of you to follow us in our ground-breaking adventure and get behind Team DermR! With continued community support, we hope to change the landscape of skin cancer detection and improve rural healthcare for all.

Here's to the pain-free future of skin cancer detection and our united drive to reimagine regional and remote healthcare!

Stefan Mazy
CEO Founder

July media coverage