Teledermatology may improve access and efficiency of care
Due to a lack of dermatologists in the US, most dermatology practices have a long wait time for patients to secure an appointment. Patients in rural and underserved areas of care often lack access to timely and quality care. Teledermatology is a subspecialty of dermatology that allows technology to transfer medical information over varying distances through audio, visual and data communication. Previous analyses of teledermatology have demonstrated improved access to care for patients
A recent article published in JAAD studied the impact of teledermatology on the accessibility and efficiency of dermatology care in an urban setting. The teledermatology program was designed as a “triage” service for all non-emergent dermatology referrals. Referring providers were trained in digital point-and-shoot cameras and these images were reviewed by groups of resident dermatology physicians and an attending dermatology physician. This retrospective analysis of more than 11,000 patients revealed the implementation of teledermatology greatly decreased wait times for patients from an average of 85 to 7 days wait time.
In addition to a decreased wait time, there was an increase in the total number of dermatology patient cases evaluated per month. Teledermatology implementation led to an increase in the efficiency of dermatology care delivery. In this study, teledermatology enabled nearly two thirds of dermatology referrals to be evaluated without a dermatology clinic visit.