Teledermatology for referring patients with general skin diseases

by | Oct 14, 2017 | Blog, Dermatologist, Rash, skincare

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Teledermatology – Shorter wait time to see a dermatologist

Healthcare in the US, is similar to other western countries, it is facing ever-increasing pressure and increased needs due to factors such as the aging populations. An increased demand for specialist care patients, is to be met with fewer resources, which inevitably leads to an increased wait times to see dermatologist (here you wait the longest to meet a dermatologist). Furthermore, both the number of time-consuming, unnecessary specialist consultations and cosmetic consultations increase.

Family doctors make the correct diagnosis of the most common skin diseases in about 50% of the time

Skin related disorders are common in primary care and amount to about 20% of all visits. Family doctors see patients with unclear skin diseases daily. Skin diseases can be very difficult to diagnose properly by a non specialist. Studies have shown that family doctors or internists diagnose the most common skin diseases correctly in about 50% of cases, while a dermatologist diagnose correctly in 96% of cases(1). In case of poor communication between the family doctor and the referring dermatologist, patients may potentially be disadvantaged and receive inadequate treatment and have a delayed diagnosis.

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Teledermatology as an alternative

At present, referrals from a primary care centre to a dermatologist is frequently done by a referral written on paper on behalf of the patient, which is then sent from the primary care centre to the nearest dermatology clinic either in traditional mail or by fax!

Telemedicine, supported by the WHO’s is defined as healthcare performed remotely through information and communication technologies (ICT, eg computers, internet, mobile phones, satellites, etc.)

Teledermatology has been shown in research to be equivalent in comparison with a face-to-face (FTF) physical consultation in regard to diagnostic precision and reliability. In outpatient care, teledermatology has proven to be reliable and diagnostically reliable for a large number of dermatological conditions, and has further been shown to reduce waiting times, increase access, and improve patients’ satisfaction and quality of life. As mentioned, several studies have shown that 18-42% of all unnecessary visits to a dermatologist can be avoided, due to the fact that with the highest degree of certainty you can make the right diagnosis in the referral assessment. Furthermore, studies indicate that the primary care referrals can be halved or reduced by 68%.

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