The Acne-Treating Spruce App Is The Latest Frontier In Telemedicine

Your beloved iPhone can track your sleep cycle, find you a cuddle buddy, and now… help you fight acne? On Thursday, a San Francisco firm called Spruce Health has launched a new telemedicine iPhone app that can virtually treat your acne. The bright, cheerfully designed app allows you to skip the long wait associated with doctor’s visits and get the acne treatment you need within 24 hours, all from the comfort of your iPhone home screen.

The new app is the brainchild of Ray Bradford, the CEO of Spruce Health, who says he wanted to come up with a more modern way to address acne — a condition faced by nearly half of all women in their twenties and thirties.

The Spruce app tries to address the complaints voiced by both patients and doctors regarding the scheduling issues, wait time, and feedback. For patients, Spruce offers near-immediate attention and allows you to avoid a trip to the doctor’s office and hours spent in a waiting room. On the other hand, Spruce allows doctors the freedom of setting their own schedules, and conduct appointments from their iPad or computer anywhere they go.

So how does Spruce work, exactly?

You Sign up

This part’s pretty easy — you download Spruce from your phone's app store, and create an account that you’ll use for the remainder of your treatment.

Take a selfie

After making an account, the app instructs you to take photos of your face, particularly the areas that are the most affected by acne. Post-photo-op, the app asks you to answer a set of medical questions similar to those you would face in a typical doctor’s visit. Finally, Spruce leaves a space for you to ask your own personal questions or voice your concerns about your skin and treatment.

Name a place

After all the personal information is taken care of, the app prompts you to choose which pharmacy you would like to use for your prescription pick up. This location is saved on your account for future use.

Get treated

After you submit your information, your photos, answers, comments, and questions are sent to a board-certified dermatologist in your state, who then reviews your case and sends a custom treatment plan within 24 hours. If your treatment involves medication you can pick up your prescription from your preferred pharmacy.

Follow-up

You can find after-care instructions, feedback, and prescription information on your account every time you log in to Spruce. Have more questions about your treatment? No problem: the app also has a space for you to ask follow-up questions of the dermatologist who prescribed your treatment plan.

All of this personal attention and speed must cost a fortune, right? Wrong. For the lucky residents of California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida, (the states where Spruce recently debuted) Spruce can be at your service for a flat rate of $40, thanks to the app creators' dedication to keeping overhead costs for physicians low. Right now, Spruce is only available to iPhone users, but Bradford assured VentureBeat that an Android app is soon to follow.

Sure, the company started small, but Bradford has big plans for the future. Though the app is limited solely to dermatologist appointments for the moments, the Spruce team says it plans to use its telemedicine platform to treat other conditions as well in the future.

The whole thing is pretty ironic, given that studies have shown that mobile phones — which amass can amass more germs than a toilet — can actually give you acne in the first place. But Bradford insists that, with telemedicine, acne is the perfect place to start, because it’s one of the few conditions that can be diagnosed with a selfie.

Images: Spruce Health