Swiss medtech startup OnlineDoctor acquires A.S.S.I.S.T to bring pioneering AI to teledermatology

OnlineDoctor, a leaving teledermatology provider, has acquired German-startup A.S.S.I.S.T (stands for: ‘ Automated Scientific Skin Infection Search Technology’) – developer of AI for dermatology.

The startup is developing a prototype with a diagnostic accuracy of over 85% for 30 skin diseases. This new acquisition deal is part of Switzerland-based OnlineDoctor’s strategy to bring the world’s first AI-supported medical product in teledermatology to market maturity.

Founded in 2016 by dermatologist Dr. Paul Scheidegger and the two health business experts Dr. Tobias Wolf and Dr. Philipp S. F. Wustrow, OnlineDoctor is one of Europe’s leading providers of teledermatology. The company is currently active in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, working with around 600 dermatologists, used by over 300 pharmacies and hospitals in Switzerland, and cooperating with over 40 health insurance companies in Germany. 

Telemedicine is the latest innovation in the healthcare sector – aiming to improve patient experience and reduce the strain on health care providers and systems. Teledermatology is a niche sector within this, and one that OnlineDoctor has been able to grow quickly in. 

In Germany, patients wait approximately 35 days for an appointment in a dermatological practice. Via the OnlineDoctor platform, people with a skin disease can get quick help from dermatologists in their area. They answer questions about the skin problem, upload photos of the affected part of the body and choose a doctor. Within an average of seven hours, they receive a written diagnosis and specific treatment recommendations. In about 15% of cases, the dermatologist will recommend an in-person visit – massively reducing pressure on doctors. So far, more than 70k people affected have been helped.

Founded in 2021, A.S.S.I.S.T comprises a team made up of specialized machine learning engineers, medical doctors and business economists. The startup’s AI-supported diagnostic tool enables an initial assessment of skin diseases – with a claimed accuracy of 85% in recognizing 30 different skin diseases.  Based on a mobile phone photo, the AI ​​assesses the situation in seconds.

For Tobias Wolf, co-founder of OnlineDoctor, the use of artificial intelligence in dermatology has the potential to change medical care and the processes in practices in the long term. He explained: “Together we are now developing the first AI-supported medical product in teledermatology – a milestone in the digitization of healthcare and a revolution in teledermatology.”

Due to the easy accessibility of the skin surface, dermatology lends itself to an AI-based diagnosis through image analysis. 

Dr Jan-Niklas Doll, AI specialist and medical doctor commented: “AI is nothing without high-quality data. We now want to further develop the technology and collect clinical data. The areas of application are diverse, but our top priority is to proceed in an evidence-based manner and to set quality standards in this heavily regulated market environment.”