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

Monroe states that when it comes to EMR photos compared to your cell phone camera, the resolution is better when using a cell phone and editing is easier. Other beneficial cell phone camera features include a magnifying glass, light, and the ability to instantly upload photos for a second opinion and/or sharing.

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

With cell phone cameras, you will take more pictures, due to its maneuverability, ability to take multiple shots from different angles and lighting. Monroe says using the flash is optional, but you can also use a streetlight to take pictures in all conditions, capturing surface texture.

Regarding written consent, Monroe states that you do not need it, but to document verbal consent. He also insisted on cropping all identifying features of the patient such as underwear, eyes, jewelry, tattoos and striking features.

To determine the best cases and topics to document, he suggests selecting those with the best story to tell or those that fit into a case study. Monroe also says that ordinary skin manifestations can also be documented as they can become clues leading to a diagnosis, including warts, skin tags, moles. These images can also be used in legal cases, for teaching, in lectures and the review leads to a different diagnosis.

When taking the pictures, Monroe says don’t be afraid to ask for the shot. He also suggests getting close, avoiding distracting elements, and checking each shot for color and resolution.

Another piece of advice Monroe provided was that cellphone cameras can both capture images and record video through the microscope eyepiece to catch fungus, tissue and scabies. It is also proof for the patient of his diagnosis.

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


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, TX.


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