Top TikTok skincare specialist Muneeb Shah joins telehealth startup

With nearly 18 million TikTok followers, a dermatologist Dr.. Munib Shah We often hear from telemedicine companies looking to work with him on branded content. But he was careful.

“Over the past year,” he said, “I’ve been approached by six or seven companies that specialize in dermatology.”

chose to reject them. He worked with one two years ago after finding out they used board-certified dermatologists. But then it changed its business model and began allowing non-dermatologists to prescribe skin treatments online, which made him decide to end his contract with them.

“I feel very strongly that board-certified dermatologists should be involved in this process,” said Dr. Shah.

Last year, he was approached for sponsored content by teledermatology platform Cortina, a seven-month-old startup founded by a Harvard Medical School faculty member. Impressed by his dedication to using board-certified dermatologists, he decided to join as an investor and board member. He now works as a medical content advisor for the company, advising the company on its social content — with a focus on TikTok.

“We want to work with experts in … dermatology. Dr. Shah’s followers trust him because he’s a board-certified expert on it. It’s important to work with the right people to share your message in all forms of media, from print to digital to TikTok,” said the Cortina founder. and its CEO, Dr. Reid McClellan, who said Dr. Shah’s number of followers and expertise caught his attention. In addition to currently working as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. McClellan is a surgeon who treats birth defects at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Multiple telemedicine platforms, eg apostrophe and NurxThey turned to the powerful influencers of TikTok to market their services. This includes a group of skincare-focused influencers, including dermatologists, estheticians, and individuals who share reviews of products they’ve tested. It’s important to work with a board-certified dermatologist for the first content partnership, Dr. McClellan said, but the company is open to offering sponsored content with other types of TikTok influencers in the future.

Among the reasons many consumers turn to dermatologists on TikTok are the barriers to getting an appointment with a traditional dermatologist, including the high cost and long waiting time. According to Shah, his followers frequently send pictures of their skin ailments, and seek medical advice.

These barriers to in-person care also keep interest in telemedicine high, even after the pandemic reopens. February 2022 McKinsey study It found that 40% of respondents said they would continue to use telemedicine after the pandemic, and 60% said they find it more convenient than in-person visits.

But doctors tend to be more wary of telemedicine than consumers: Fifty-five percent of patients say they’re “more satisfied” with telehealth than with in-person visits, while only 32% of doctors think it can improve the patient experience, according to for the McKinsey study.

“A lot of doctors and a lot of people in the industry are skeptical of change,” said Dr. Shah of the medical industry. “In every industry and anytime there is a technical disruption, people who are part of the legacy version of that industry are going to be skeptical.”

But he said he will maintain his high standards for the companies he works with.

“You need to be in good credit for care. [Telemedicine] It is a business, but it is also healthcare.” Dr Shah noted the need to “balance” these two aspects in order to make sure the standard of care is not compromised.

For her part, Cortina has a network of in-clinic dermatologists who refer people if their condition isn’t suitable for online treatment, such as one that might need a biopsy. The platform currently only treats five conditions: acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, male pattern hair loss, and female pattern hair loss. Dr. McClellan said there are “nearly 3,000” conditions that can be treated hypothetically, and the company plans to increase the number in the future.

Dr. Shah, who is initially creating content for the platform about the differences between rosacea and acne, said the startup’s future social content will focus on education.

McClellan has high hopes for teledermatology, which he said is geared toward making treatment of smaller skin problems more efficient in order to keep more in-person appointment times open for those who need them. “Over the next five years, we will see huge growth potential in the field of telemedicine, and in particular the field of teledermatology, because it is an area of ​​image-based medicine,” he said.

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