Bupa UK has launched a new remote skin assessment service which will help customers to detect skin cancers from home.

Bupa’s health insurance customers who are worried about a mole or skin lesion can call the Cancer Direct Access service to discuss their symptoms without the need for a GP referral.

As part of the service Bupa worked with Skin Analytics, a U.K.-based startup which has developed a skin cancer screening service that uses AI.

If the new remote skin assessment service is suitable, by the next working day customers will receive a kit which includes a smart phone and a dermatoscopic (magnifying) lens to take high-resolution photos of moles or lesions.

Once a customer uploads the photos to an app on the phone, a dermatologist will review them alongside their medical history.

If there’s nothing to worry about, they will be sent a report within 24 hours. If further investigation is needed, an advisor contacts the customer to discuss next steps. Bupa will then help arrange an onward referral to a specialist.

Dr Luke James, medical director at Bupa Global and UK, said: “If detected early enough skin cancer is easily treated and survival rates are high. However, diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers are often delayed because people are aren’t confident identifying the symptoms or are concerned about wasting the doctors time. This has been more telling during the pandemic.

“Most moles are harmless and they’re usually nothing to worry about, but it’s important to get any unusual changes to the skin checked out as it could be a sign of something more serious. Our new remote skin assessment service allows fast access to medical support and treatment for a diagnosis, or offers peace of mind that the symptoms are not cancer.”

It is hoped that the ease and speed which Bupa customers can now get moles and marks checked by an expert dermatologist will encourage more people to come forward and get help with any concerns.

This remote service follows Bupa partnering up with Visionable in July 2020 to introduce a video collaboration platform used to treat patients based in the UK and abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic.