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How to Optimize Your Cell Phone Camera for Your Dermatology Practice


Imagery is an essential part is diagnosing and documenting your patients’ skin. Joe Monroe, MPAS, PA, presented on how to effectively use your cell phone camera at the 2022 SDPA Annual Summer Meeting held June 16-19, 2022, in Austin, Texas.

Imagery is an essential part of diagnosing and documenting your patients’ skin. Moreover, the quality of the image is equally as important. While most would think to just use EMR photos, Joe Monroe, MPAS, PA, suggests the cell phone in your pocket is equal, if not a better alternative to EMR photos. Monroe presented on how to effectively use your cell phone camera at the 2022 Society for Dermatology Physician Assistants Annual Summer Meeting held June 16-19, 2022, in Austin, Texas.1

Monroe states that when it comes to EMR photos vs your cell phone camera the resolution is better when using a cell phone and editing is easier. Additional beneficial features of the cell phone camera include a magnifier, light, and the ability to forward photos instantly for second opinions and/or sharing.

He says the current phones with the best camera include the Samsung Galaxy 9 and above and Motorola, which has 48 megapixels. Both these phones also allow for easy editing, which Monroe stresses is crucial.

With cell phone cameras you will take more images, because of its handiness, ability to take serval shots from different angles and lighting. Monroe says using the flash is optional, but you can also use a floor lamp to shoot across the conditions, catching surface texture.

When it comes to written consent, Monroe states that you do not need it, but to document verbal consent. He also stressed cropping out any identifying features of the patient such as underclothes, eyes, jewelry, tattoos, and striking features.

To determine the best cases and subjects to document, he suggests selecting the ones with the best story to tell or ones that fit into a case study. Monroe also says that ordinary cutaneous manifestations are okay to document as well because they can become clues that lead to a diagnosis, including warts, skin tags, moles, among other things. These images can also be used in legal cases, for teaching, in lectures, and reviewing leads to a different diagnosis.

When taking the images, Monroe says to not be afraid to ask for the shot. He also suggests getting in close, avoiding distracting items, and checking each shot for color and resolution.

Another tip Monroe provided was that cell phone cameras can both capture images and record video through the microscope eyepiece to catch fungi, tissue, and scabies. This is also proof for the patient of their diagnosis.

Finally, Monroe says to put your expensive cell phone to work by sharing your images with colleagues, patients, and the scientific community in journal articles and PowerPoint lectures.


1. Monroe J. Best uses for your cell phone camera. Presented at: The Society for Dermatology Physician Assistants Annual Summer Meeting. June 16-19, 2022. Austin, Texas.

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