News Feature | February 20, 2014

Telemedicine Successful In Dermatology Study

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Study shows telemedicine consultations as reliable as office visits more than 90 percent of the time

A study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology has found a 90 percent agreement in office evaluations of skin conditions when compared with evaluations via mobile phones. As a result, the authors of the study conclude, “Teledermatology is reliable for the triage of inpatient dermatology consultations and has the potential to improve efficiency.”

According to iHealth Beat, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 50 hospital patients who had skin conditions that needed evaluation. All of the study participants were treated in person by a physician. Pictures of their skin conditions were then sent to two independent dermatologists for analysis and diagnosis.

Results showed, “If the in-person dermatologist recommended the patient be seen the same day, the teledermatologist agreed in 90 percent of the consultations. If the in-person dermatologist recommended a biopsy, the teledermatologist agreed in 95 percent of cases on average.”

"There is a real dermatology workforce shortage, especially in rural areas," Dr. Lindy P. Fox told Reuters Health in an email. "Teledermatology is a viable way to deliver care to those who do not have direct access to dermatologists as it allows dermatologic care to be delivered in a timely manner to patients who might have long wait times to see a dermatologist or have to travel long distances to see a dermatologist.

"One of the unique perspectives of this study is that it addresses improving access to dermatologists in the hospital setting, a place where dermatologists traditionally do not spend the majority of their practice time," Fox wrote.

Misha Rosenbach, the study's lead author, said, "A substantial agreement between in-person and teledermatology consultants in this study demonstrates the reliability and potential of this platform."

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