Firstcheck teamed up with Dr Tom Mulholland and took a recent ‘mission’ to the Chatham Islands as part of its drive to improve access to skin specialists for all New Zealanders and Australians.
Taking Firstcheck to far-flung corners
“Being 800 kilometres off the coast of mainland New Zealand, in the middle of the South Pacific poses many challenges for Chatham Islanders – and specialist health care is definitely one of them”, says Firstcheck co-founder Hayden Laird.
What better place to take Firstcheck – which is helping to improve access to specialist health professionals – but to the most remote parts of New Zealand and Australia.
The ‘mission’ included a donation of Firstcheck SkinScopes which were hand-delivered by Dr Tom to Dr Wilkes – the island’s only GP at the Chatham Islands Health Centre. These, and free skin specialist consultations via the Firstcheck app, were gifted to Dr Wilkes and his clinic nurses for use with patients and to refer cases to skin doctors on the mainland.
“The Firstcheck SkinScopes empower the close monitoring of moles affordably from home and can be used with the Firstcheck app for the timely review of suspect lesions by skin specialists” Hayden added.
Dr Tom’s visit to the Chatham Islands included skin cancer screenings using the donated Firstcheck SkinScopes and Firstcheck app. He describes the Firstcheck technology as “the latest in mobile skin cancer screening, allowing patients to transmit images and information about their suspicious moles to skin specialists for review”.
Allowing even the most far-flung corners of New Zealand to have access to specialist advice, Firstcheck’s donations mean more of the island’s population can take better care of their skin in an environment which calls upon them to spend considerable time outdoors. This is of particular importance given workers both in the farming and fishing industries have an increased risk of cancer due to frequent outdoor exposure. A recent UK melanoma study found working outdoors exposed to the sun caused the death of 41 Britons each year. “Construction workers are most at risk of malignant melanoma followed by those who work in agriculture” researchers said.
Assisting with under-resourced and remote health operations such as on the Chatham Islands, Firstcheck believes that empowering people with tools and technology to take care of their skin health is extremely important. All the more so given that some patients report that cost, the need to travel, and the inconvenience of an in-person appointment, mean that they don’t get their skin checked as often as they should.
Early identification of skin cancer and melanoma leads to earlier and more effective treatment. The Firstcheck app, as a teledermatology tool (like those already used within the medical profession), means that every New Zealander and Australian now has affordable and convenient access to skin specialists to help with the early detection of skin cancer.
Doctor Tom says, “The feedback from Dr Wilkes and the Chatham Islands’ community has been overwhelmingly positive,” and will no doubt lead to better overall health outcomes for the island community. Continuing to assist under resourced locations like the Chatham Islands, Firstcheck will endeavour to break down more barriers and effectively connect more New Zealanders and Australians with leading skin medical professionals.
This is one mission Firstcheck is extremely proud to be a part of!