by CIO New Zealand

Kiwi startup develops app for early detection of skin cancer

Nov 13, 2016
Big DataCareersCloud Computing

It’s promising to see the power of technology advancing to promote early detection of melanoma.Linda Flay, Melanoma NZ

A smartphone app giving Kiwis access to a dermatologist within 72 hours has been launched in time for Melanoma Awareness Week, which starts today.

The iPhone and Android app is the first of its kind, using specialists rather than a computer algorithm, says the app developer, New Plymouth startup Firstcheck.

Firstcheck says the startup has received support from the Ministry of Health, Melanoma New Zealand and New Zealand dermatologists.

The app is free to download and allows users to take a photo, with their smartphone or tablet, of a mole or skin condition. The picture is sent to a registered New Zealand dermatologist or skin cancer doctor and within 72 hours the user will receive a response and recommendation from the doctor.

It is the first of its kind and follows teledermatology guidelines, including magnified photos and accompanying information about a skin condition.

Firstcheck co-founders Hayden Laird, entrepreneur, and Frank Lachmann, IT-business consultant, say the app has already helped pick up the early detection of two cases of melanoma and skin cancer last month during a final testing phase.

“In both cases, users took a photo of a mole with the app and a NZ dermatologist discovered they had early stage skin cancer. This is never good news, but early detection is crucial to your chances of beating skin cancer,” says Laird, in a statement.

“We already have dermatologists and skin cancer doctors working with the app in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Blenheim and Christchurch with more being signed up by the day – there’s nothing else like this, it’s the first of its kind in New Zealand.”

Each Firstcheck consultation will also see 50 cents donated to Melanoma New Zealand.

“It’s promising to see the power of technology advancing to promote early detection of melanoma,” says Melanoma NZ CEO Linda Flay.

“This is not a substitute for a face-to-face visit with your doctor, but it is an encouraging tool for the timely review of a lesion of concern and creating your own health records for tracking change.”

Firstcheck co-founders Hayden Laird, entrepreneur, and Frank Lachmann

Send news tips and comments to

Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz

Sign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.